Jennings downplays his ankle injury at OTAs

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 31, 2013 - 6:00 AM

“It’s May,” he stressed, knowing he will have time to recover and develop rapport with Christian Ponder.

 

Greg Jennings is very much aware of his recent injury history — the eight games he missed last season because of a core muscle issue, plus three games lost in 2011 because of a knee problem.

But rest assured, Vikings fans, the ankle Jennings twisted Tuesday morning during the Vikings’ first session of organized team activities does not register as anywhere close to serious.

The veteran receiver couldn’t stress that strongly enough Thursday after the Vikings completed their first week of OTAs.

“It’s May,” Jennings asserted.

And just to emphasize the reminder that meaningful football is a long way off, Jennings held his smile a few extra seconds.

“It’s May,” he said again. “I don’t think right now counts as much. It’s important. But it really doesn’t count as much as September and August. Really September through hopefully February.

“It is May. It is May. And I’m perfectly fine.”

Yes, Jennings concedes the timing of his most recent injury was frustrating. After all, when the Vikings opened their Wednesday OTA session to the media, the team’s biggest offseason addition was confined to the sidelines.

So much for showing off his crisp route running and his developing chemistry with quarterback Christian Ponder.

“That was the first thing I said. I’m like, ‘Really? Of all days,’ ” Jennings said. “ ‘Now the media is here and I’m not practicing. Great.’ ”

Still, Jennings fully expects to be back in action when OTAs resume Tuesday. And even with this week interrupted by a minor setback, the receiver’s enthusiasm hasn’t dipped at all since he signed with the Vikings in March.

If anything, the recent opportunity to work with Ponder and an eager receiving corps that also includes Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and Joe Webb has energized Jennings.

Before signing with the Vikings, the 29-year-old playmaker said he spent significant time watching film of Ponder, eventually becoming convinced the young quarterback simply needed a few more weapons to take his game up a level. And now that Jennings has had an opportunity to work with Ponder in person over the past month, he’s been impressed with the quarterback’s confidence.

“And his willingness to get better every day,” Jennings said. “He’s taking strides every single day. Which I think, as an individual and as a person, that’s all you can ask for.”

Jennings has made a point to converse with Ponder after practices to exchange thoughts on how they see things unfolding. Jennings’ input should be invaluable. After all, he spent his first seven seasons catching passes from Packers MVP gunslingers Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and believes he can quickly develop similar rapport with his new quarterback.

“With a guy like Christian, he’s very smart. So it can happen,” Jennings said. “It can definitely happen. It’s one of those things where you kind of pick each other’s brains. And then once you’re on the field working together, that chemistry just starts to form itself. You’re able to watch one another. And then it starts to grow. It starts to be watered a little bit. And then it blossoms into something great.”

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