Deep threat was there for the Vikings' picking

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 30, 2007 - 10:11 PM

He was chilly about coming to frigid Green Bay, but second-round pick Greg Jennings has warmed to his new home.

When the Packers traded Javon Walker to Denver on draft day last year, Greg Jennings knew he would end up in Green Bay.

And he wasn't happy about it.

"I put two and two together and thought this is the last place in the world I want to go," said Jennings, a Michigan native and the career receptions leader at Western Michigan University.

"Green Bay is cold, and I've been cold my whole life. Now I'm going to end up in Green Bay? Man. No way."

The Packers did, however, have one significant selling point.

"I thought I could be playing with Brett Favre," Jennings said. "And, you know, it's really ended up being the perfect situation for me."

Not to mention a record-setting proposition. Favre's 16-yard touchdown pass to Jennings with 4 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first quarter of Sunday's 23-16 victory over the Vikings at the Metrodome moved Favre past Hall of Famer Dan Marino into first place in NFL history with 421 touchdown passes.

"It was a perfect read by Brett," Jennings said. "But that's what we expect from him. He sees everything on the field."

The record-setting play came within a tick or two of being a delay-of-game penalty on third-and-7. With Jennings lined up wide right, tight end Donald Lee tight right, receiver Donald Driver in the left slot and rookie receiver James Jones wide left. Favre noticed a gaping hole in the Vikings defense across from Jennings. So he decided to audible.

Favre used a hand signal to inform Jennings that he was switching the play to "Dragon." It's a drag slant in which the outside receiver (Jennings) runs a slant pattern and the inside receiver (Lee) drags into the flat to take the safety away from the slant.

"The problem we almost had was I can't see a hand signal when my hand is on the ground and my head is down," Lee said. "Brett needed to tell me what he was doing, or the play wouldn't work. I was supposed to run a crossing pattern. I would have run the safety right into the play."

Favre had just enough time to run up, yell the change into Lee's left ear, retreat and snap the ball. "I didn't think he'd get the play off," Jennings said. "I'm not sure how he did."

Jennings ran the quick slant in front of rookie cornerback Marcus McCauley. There were two windows of opportunity for Favre to throw the ball. He and Jennings knew the first one would be covered but the second one deeper downfield would be wide open.

"We just knew," Jennings said. "I'm thinking touchdown. It was a flashback to last week."

Jennings caught Favre's 420th touchdown pass the week before on a 57-yard catch-and-run slant. And last year, he caught Favre's 400th career touchdown on a 75-yarder.

Jennings missed the first two games this season because of a hamstring injury. But in the two games he has played, it's obvious he's a solid No. 2 receiver -- and possible heir apparent to Driver's No. 1 spot -- with seven catches for 125 yards (17.9 average) and two touchdowns.

He'd easily be the No. 1 receiver with the Vikings. And the Vikings could have drafted him. With the 51st pick last year, they took New Mexico center Ryan Cook, who continues to struggle while playing completely out of position at right tackle. Jennings went to Green Bay with the 52nd pick.

"We had our eye on him the whole second round," Ted Thompson, the Packers' general manager, said Sunday. "In fact, had we not been able to trade down with New England [at the 36th overall pick], we would have just taken Greg with that pick."

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