Greg Jennings is back. Can he be the savior for an offense that shockingly ranks 13th in scoring and 18th in yards?
“No, that’s all execution right there. That’s all that is,” Jennings said on Wednesday of the offense’s struggles against the Giants, in particular, and throughout the season.
A healthy Jennings, however, can make a big difference. Without him. Jordy Nelson and James Jones lack the short-area explosion to consistently get open, and Jermichael Finley’s consistently been inconsistent. That’s left Randall Cobb to be more and more of a focal point for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and defenses have adjusted accordingly.
Jennings is one of the NFL's best receivers in getting off the line of scrimmage, which should pay immediate dividends.
“He’s dangerous,” Rodgers said of Jennings. “I mean, he’s a guy that can play inside or outside. He’s always been great after the catch. He’s been great when the ball’s in the air, very intelligent, understands route concepts, timing. He’s been there before. I mean, he was a polished guy when he got here, he’s gotten better every year, and I think just the name recognition alone merits the respect. I think just having him out there gives us another weapon.”
Jennings has played in only about 10 quarters this season and has missed the last seven games. Rodgers and Jennings obviously have built a rapport over the years but Rodgers has been trying to get the duo back on the same page.
“We’ve worked on some stuff last week and today he looked great,” Rodgers said. “I’ve been trying to go to him a little bit more in some of the walkthrough stuff where it’s actually pretty quick tempo and in practice, looking for him, just making sure we’re on the same page. We played a lot of football together so I’m not worried about that.”
On Tuesday, coach Mike McCarthy hinted that Jennings might be on a snap count. That would be the wise approach, considering Jennings hasn’t played since Sept. 30 and had surgery Nov. 1 to mend his abdominal injury. Jennings, however, said he’s in “great” shape after spending last week running with the scout team and even on the kickoff coverage and punt return units for extra conditioning.
“If I had a say, I would just say just let me go. I’m good,” Jennings said. “There’s no need for that. But I can’t control that part of it. When my number gets called, I’m going to be ready to go.”
Packers injury report
Out: CB Sam Shields (ankle); DB Charles Woodson (collarbone). Did not participate: WR Donald Driver (thumb); LB Clay Matthews (hamstring); DT Ryan Pickett (quad); RB Johnny White (concussion); DE C.J. Wilson (knee). Limited: S M.D. Jennings (rib); LB Terrell Manning (shoulder); T Marshall Newhouse (wrist); TE Andrew Quarless (knee). Full: WR Greg Jennings (groin/abdomen).
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he does not “have a high level of concern” for Newhouse.
Vikings injury report
Did not participate: TE Kyle Rudolph (concussion/shoulder). Limited: LB Jasper Brinkley (shoulder); WR Percy Harvin (ankle); T Phil Loadholt (knee); S Harrison Smith (concussion); CB Antoine Winfield (knee). Full: DE Jared Allen (shoulder/back); DT Letroy Guion (foot); P Chris Kluwe (left knee); RB Adrian Peterson (shoulder).
“We’re hoping,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Harvin during a conference call. “We’ve all got our fingers crossed. He’s made some progress. He’s going to try and do a little something today. I watched him try to move around yesterday. We’re all hoping we get him back. We need him.”
Smith and Rudolph were cleared of their concussions.
— The Packers have more injury concerns on defense, a major issue with Adrian Peterson coming to town.
— Sunday is Dec. 2, which means the sense or urgency is heightened with the stretch run to the season about to begin. “Urgency is definitely part of our theme, there’s no question about it, regardless of what happened in New York” McCarthy said. “It’s heightened, obviously, because of our performance in New York. But we have great urgency for the Vikings. It’s a division game. I really don’t think you need to say anything else but that. This is a game that we need. I’m sure this is an important game for them. We’re back home, and we’re looking forward to getting out there.”
— Rodgers’ mustache is in honor of “Movember,” a month-long event to draw awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer “Today is what, the 28th, so we’ve got two days left. Can’t have this for my birthday on Sunday. I’ve got to look good for that. It’s great when you can raise awareness for something, something bigger than yourself. I’ve obviously enjoyed working with the MACC Fund. I’m doing it and proud to be a part of a lot of guys doing it.”
— This is a big game for the Vikings, who at 6-5 would be in deep trouble with a loss on Sunday. “I think everyone knows what this game means and it’s a rivalry game,” quarterback Christian Ponder told reporters in Eden Prairie, Minn. “These are the ones that you live for. These are the ones that when you’re playing in pee wee, you dream about, playing in the NFL against your rival. Vikings-Green Bay that’s a huge game and obviously what’s at stake makes it even bigger. At that same time, we aren’t going to put extra pressure on ourselves. I think everyone’s motivated to come in, work hard and get better from last week.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.