With Jennings, receiving corps is a catch

If Greg Jennings would have stayed healthy last season, there would have been no clamor for Randy Moss nor desperate cries to give Brett Favvre another weapon, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence says.

Who would you rather have as a starting receiver? A 30-year-old player who caught 42 passes for 553 yards and three touchdowns last season? Or a 24-year-old player who caught 45 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns?

Of course, this is a simplistic question.

Nonetheless, the players in question are Randy Moss and Greg Jennings. Jennings, despite playing a position in which rookies almost never contribute, had a better season than Moss, despite being hobbled by a bum ankle for more than half a season.

For much of Packers Nation — especially those fans who think Ted Thompson isn't fit to be dog catcher, much less be general manager of the Green Bay Packers — the failure to land Moss was just the latest example of penny-pinching Ted being unwilling to help Brett Favre.

If I had a dollar for every time I've written this, I'd be a wealthy man, but it bears repeating. Thompson's youth movement is aimed at building a team able to contend for several years, and the only way young and inexperienced players become veteran, experienced players is to let them play.

So, along with character and salary-cap issues, Thompson decided Jennings was a better long-term fit than Moss.

In the big picture, Thompson undoubtedly made the right decision. Even in the short term, going with Jennings might be the right move.

Let's recall what Jennings did last season before hurting his ankle in the sixth game of last season against Miami. In his first five games, Jennings burst onto the scene to catch 20 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns — this despite catching one pass for 5 yards in the opener. Extrapolate those numbers for a 16-game season, and a healthy Jennings would have caught 64 passes for 1,165 yards (an 18.2-yard average) and nine or 10 touchdowns.

If Jennings could have produced those kind of numbers last season, do you think there would have been such a clamor for Moss? Do you think there would be such an outcry for Thompson to get Favre another weapon if Donald Driver and Jennings had combined for 156 catches for 2,460 yards and 20 touchdowns, as they would have if Jennings stayed healthy and kept up his pace?

Throw in Koren Robinson once he completes his suspension and hope for the emergence of one player from a group including Ruvell Martin, Carlyle Holliday or rookie James Jones as a decent No. 3 or No. 4 threat, and the Packers' receiving corps would have seemed loaded.

Well, it's the same crew, but somehow, there's a pity party out there because poor Brett doesn't have anyone to throw the ball to other than Driver.

Obviously, Moss — if he came to Green Bay in the right frame of mind, and that's no guarantee considering his history — would have made that group of receivers even more dynamic. But, with the Packers still in rebuilding mode, why set Jennings' development back by limiting his play as only the No. 3 receiver?

Coach Mike McCarthy says Jennings is stronger than a year ago. He's not track fast, but he's football fast, as evidenced by his 75-yard touchdown catch against Detroit last season. Obviously, he's a smarter player with a year of experience under his belt. He's from the same mold as Driver in that what he lacks in natural ability he makes up for with work and intelligence.

Assuming Driver can defy Father Time and Jennings stays healthy, the key to the Packers' passing game will not be Favre's weapons, but Favre himself.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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