Unsung Heroes: Packers receivers’ egos take back seat to Super production : Packers Insider

Unsung Heroes: Packers receivers’ egos take back seat to Super production

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under News

By Tom Pedulla, USA Today

~IRVING, Texas — When you think NFL wide receivers, you think egos ranging from large to massive.

When you think Green Bay Packers wide receivers, you think egos cast aside in the interest of massive production.

“They are excellent players,” says receivers coach Jimmy Robinson of his deep and tight-knit group, “but I always say they are probably better people.”

With parents who are pastors instilling a great Christian foundation, it's no surprise that Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings is as good of a person as he is a football player. Reggie White wasn't the only one.

Greg Jennings is the statistical leader with 76 catches for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns. But, after earning Pro Bowl recognition for the first time in his five seasons, he establishes a selfless tone by not necessarily regarding himself as quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ primary target.

“Once the ball is in play, you’re the No. 1 guy. It’s whoever gets open the quickest,” he says.

Injuries and the continued development of James Jones (50 receptions, 679 yards, 5 TDs) and Jordy Nelson (45 catches, 582 yards, 2 scores) led to a statistical falloff for 12th-year man Donald Driver. He pulled in 51 passes for 565 yards and four TDs, abruptly ending his string of six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

“You can trade a 1,000-yard season for a Super Bowl any day,” he says. “I am happy to do that.”

Driver, through his willingness to do whatever is necessary by absorbing the big hits in the middle of the field, has assured himself a prominent place in franchise history.

Fan-Favorite: Donald Driver is the heart & soul of the Packers and fans want to see Driver win a ring as much as any other player.

He holds the club record with 698 receptions and needs 42 yards to surpass James Lofton (9,656) in receiving yards. At this stage, he is content to expand his job description to include that of mentor.

Jennings says Driver has been important to his progress.

“For me, to have him next to me in the locker room, in the meeting room, you can sponge a lot off a guy like that, how he’s done it for so long at a high level,” he said.

The receivers don’t always scatter in different directions once a practice or home game is over. They enjoy socializing.

“When we get together, we get together as family,” Driver says. “Our kids run around and play with one another.”

They love to compete in activities ranging from cards to darts to dancing. One recent activity had the receivers squaring off against their wives on the dance floor. It proved to be a mismatch.

“We thought we could shake a little bit,” Driver says, “but we ended up losing.”

It says everything about their competitive spirit that a rematch is planned once Super Bowl XLV is over.

“They all want that ball. They all want more. They are no different from any other receivers in that,” Robinson says. “But they recognize the talent in the group and that the ball is going to be spread around.”

The Packers had three receivers finish with at least 50 catches for the first time in their history.

James Jones celebrates with Greg Jennings. Fans can't tell on the television screen, but Jones is very big and strong, as seen here compared to Greg Jennings.

Says Nelson, who is completing his third season, “We have faith in everyone out there.”

The pressure to keep pace — and the players’ varied talents leads every receiver to have a thorough understanding of every role in the passing game. They are almost interchangeable parts.

“I don’t know that anybody else has a top-four group that is of starter caliber the way these guys are,” says Robinson while also noting second-year man Brett Swain’s potential.

Jones says the communication between receivers extends to Rodgers, especially when he is flushed from the pocket.

“We understand what he’s thinking. He understands what we’re thinking,” Jones says. “It’s tough to stop our guys when we’re all on the same page.”

Although not quick, Jordy Nelson has deep speed to go with his strength and size. He often fools DB's with his ability to get behind them, as the Giants learned the hard way back in week 16 here on an 80-yard touchdown catch.

Full story HERE

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