MANKATO – Memo to Green Bay fans and hyperventilating bloggers: If Greg Jennings compliments the Vikings, it doesn’t always imply he’s taking shots at the Packers.
Jennings received plenty of flak recently for candid comments he made criticizing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as somewhat vain and self-important. But lost in that hullabaloo was the receiver’s profound appreciation for the positive energy he has discovered within the Vikings organization.
That’s a sentiment Jennings reiterated Wednesday during a radio spot with Paul Allen and Ben Leber on KFAN (100.3-FM). Leber asked Jennings if he sensed championship-type qualities within this Vikings team.
“We really do,” Jennings said. “And one of the things that obviously drew me to coming over here was the makeup of the team. When I came over here, I was kind of brainwashed. There’s no ‘kind of’ to it. Being over in Green Bay, you’re brainwashed to think that anyone in the division is just tiers below. So coming over here, I meet the people within the organization and I’m like ‘Wow, these are really great people.’ ”
Jennings never had considered the grass could be greener.
“It sounds crazy,” he said. “But it’s like everything that you know in Green Bay is like the best, the best, the best, the best, the best. And it’s like total brainwashing. And I think you don’t open your eyes to see what other teams have to offer unless you’re in that position.”
To be clear, Jennings was expressing surprise in how quickly he connected with the Vikings coaching staff and front office. But referencing the rival Packers? Predictably, his thoughts were quickly twisted by many into something more sensational than what he was saying.
Sullivan on track
With two weeks of camp complete, center John Sullivan says he’s feeling better every day, not hindered at all from the offseason microfracture surgery he had on his left knee.
Sullivan credits his patience during offseason rehabilitation for putting him in position to attack this preseason properly.
“You never want to be that guy on the sideline just watching during OTAs. But injuries are a part of things,” he said. “So I tried my best to focus on making sure my 2013 wouldn’t be like my 2010, where I didn’t rehab as well as I could have and I ended up getting hurt in training camp.”
Sullivan had offseason ankle surgery in 2010 to remove bone spurs and then struggled with calf injuries during camp and deep into the regular season. This time around, he made certain to zero in on his knee recovery with a focus on eliminating residual setbacks.
“I looked very closely at all the muscles around the affected area and made sure I didn’t let anything fatigue to a point where there’d be huge disparities in my strength and then I’d be at risk for other muscle injuries,” he said.
Quarterback Christian Ponder was asked if he thinks rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson’s athleticism can help him overcome his raw route-running skills, enabling him to make a quicker impact. Ponder made it clear he doesn’t want the youngster just winging it.
“In the NFL, the talent gap is definitely close. Everyone is talented,” he said. “The system and what we do, everyone depends on everyone else. So if you don’t run a route the certain way or run the right route, it’s going to affect everybody else.”
Ponder did, however, say there are situations in which even an underdeveloped Patterson can make an impact.
“If it’s like a ‘go’ ball and he’s not fully open, he’s a guy that we can put some air under the ball and he’ll out-jump or out-body a guy,” Ponder said. “He does a great job, especially on skinny posts and stuff. …
“We just have to get him the ball in his hands. I’m excited to see when it’s not two-hand touch out there, what he’s going to do and how many tackles he’s going to break.”
• Jared Allen and Harrison Smith each returned to practice Wednesday after suffering injuries a day earlier. Allen’s rolled ankle wasn’t serious, nor was Smith’s twisted knee.
• Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Desmond Bishop did light work during Wednesday’s practice as they work through hamstring issues. Leslie Frazier said it was unlikely either would play in Friday’s preseason opener.