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Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver has no plans to give up starter job, but will if asked

Aug. 16, 2011
 

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Ageless Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver isnít going anywhere, even though the roster is loaded with younger talent.

Driver, 36, still looks good, feels good, is in tip-top shape and has no plans to relinquish his starting job.

ďI think heís had a good camp, I really do,Ē said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday.

ďItís typical Donald. Heís going to run his routes well, heís going to catch the ball and heís going to make some plays when he gets in game situations.Ē

Driver has thrived on silencing his doubters, and he is hoping this year is no different.

ďItís been like that all my life,Ē Driver said. ďAs a child growing up, people tell me I canít do this, I canít do that. I prove people wrong.Ē

His string of six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons ended last year when he caught 51 passes for 565 yards. Some believe itís a sign his career is nearing an end. To Driver, that kind of talk will only serve as motivation.

ďItís been the talk since I got here in í99 and the talk continues in 2011,Ē Driver said. ďI donít think itís going to ever change.Ē

Driver is realistic enough to know he canít play forever. He is humble enough to accept a smaller role in the offense, if asked. He even would settle for a nonstarting position if thatís what the Packers wanted.

ďIf it got to that point where they made a decision to say, ĎHey Donald, weíre not going to start you,í Iím OK with it,Ē Driver said. ďItís not going to be the first time I havenít started a game.Ē

But that time hasnít arrived, according to Driver. He hasnít lost a step or hit the proverbial wall.

ďI said I want to play until Iím 40,Ē Driver said. ďWill that day come? I hope. If not, Iím willing to know when itís over, itís over. And right now for me itís not over. Itís been a proven fact Iím still playing at a high level. Iím competing at a high level.Ē

Driver suffered a high ankle sprain in the Super Bowl and missed the second half of the championship game. He normally works out fiendishly in the offseason but was forced to rest.

ďThe lockout thing kind of saved me because I didnít have to rush back,Ē he said.

ďIt gave me an opportunity to just let everything heal on its own and let it take its course. Iím finally healthy and feel good.Ē

But with the Packers boasting so many weapons on offense, including the return of tight end Jermichael Finley from an injury and the addition of rookie wideout Randall Cobb, can Driver continue to find contentment in Green Bay?

ďIím one of the unselfish guys,Ē Driver said. ďIíve always been that way and that will never change. I never care who gets the ball, as long as we win the games. Thatís all that matters to me.Ē

He will gladly settle for fewer receiving yards again if it leads to another championship.

ďI donít care,Ē he said. ďI won a Super Bowl. I have that title. I have that ring. Iím OK with that.Ē

Driver owns the record for most receptions (698) in Packers history and is just 42 yards shy of James Loftonís franchise mark for receiving yards.

Beyond statistics, Driverís veteran leadership has been invaluable.

ďHeís not a guy that says too much,Ē receiver James Jones said. ďHe just goes out there and does his job. He works hard, never complains, just how he carries himself. When youíre a young guy coming in you canít do anything but follow that.Ē

Driver, who is entering his 13th season, wants to end his NFL career the same way he started it.

ďThe humble guy that walked in here in í99, laughing and joking and had a smile on his face and not mad at the world for anything, thatís the same way I want to go out,Ē Driver said. ďThe same happy-go-lucky person.Ē

Mike Vandermause is the sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Email him at mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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