Greg Jennings played 85 percent of the Minnesota Vikings' offensive plays Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but that number 85 might have been the only thing reminiscent of his days with the Green Bay Packers.
Old No. 85, now wearing No. 15, signed a four-year, $45 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus after spending seven years with the Packers, but he had limited success in his Vikings debut. He was targeted seven times but caught only three passes for 33 yards.
"I thought they went OK. They could have went better, but that's just from a personal standpoint. There will always be room for improvement," Jennings said. "… Perfection is always the goal. If you achieve it, you really haven't set the bar high. It was OK. There are 15 more opportunities to get better."
Jennings had three 1,000-yard seasons with the Packers from 2008-10, including two exceeding 1,200 yards, with 900-yard seasons surrounding those.
Those five consecutive years exceeding 900 yards, of course, came with a different system and different quarterbacks. Now he is trying to adapt to a new offense and a new quarterback in Christian Ponder.
"Just overall, the chemistry, flow, being more comfortable in my role, just all of the above," he said when asked what he wanted to improve. "Looking at how things went (on Sunday), just being more impactful when the ball is thrown my way and making the best out of each and every opportunity, no matter what the situation is."
His first pass from Ponder early in the second quarter nearly produced a first down. The second time Ponder was credited with targeting Jennings, the third-year quarterback when he threw a weak interception to linebacker Stephen Tulloch as Ponder's arm was hit when releasing the ball.
"There will always be missed opportunities, always be room for improvement," Jennings said. "… I don't care how well you play. If you're a great competitor, if you have high character about yourself, you know that even though you may play very, very good, very, very well, you know you could have done something better."
In the third quarter, Ponder and Jennings connected for their longest play of the game, a 20-yard connection, but that was followed by incompletions each of the next three times Ponder targeted him. One of them was an overthrow down the left sideline with tight coverage inside. Another was a post route that was thrown behind Jennings but might have been intercepted if Ponder had thrown it to Jennings in stride because of a linebacker dropping back to bracket the receiver inside. The third was a scramble by Ponder in which it appeared he tried to lead Jennings to a more open spot down the field but the receiver started to work back toward the line of scrimmage.
Jennings said he thought Ponder – who threw for 236 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions – responded well in Wednesday's practice, the first full session for the team since the 34-24 loss.
The veteran receiver said he would talk to Ponder, but it wasn't going to be just pointing out the flaws.
"You say something to him. You say something to yourself. You say something to the entire team because it wasn't just him. He can't win the game for us. He can't just lose the game for us. Trust me. That's the tough role he has," Jennings said. "If we play well, Christian looks great. If we don't play well, Christian still will not look great. I've spoke to him about that.
"He doesn't bear the whole load. Just like Adrian (Peterson) doesn't bear the whole load. We're a team of 53. We bear the load. Not one man, not one person, not one individual. If that was the case, we would throw Adrian out there on the field and we would all watch him or we would throw Christian out there by himself and we would just watch. But that's not the case, so it's not fair for one person to get solely all the stones thrown at him when there was mistakes made by 11 guys that were out there on the field at some point throughout the game."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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