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Continued: Jennings still stalks success, and wants to bring the Vikings with him

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 25, 2013 - 10:33 AM

In 2011, Jordy Nelson leapfrogged Jennings as Aaron Rodgers’ top receiver. Last season, with Jennings missing eight games because of a nagging core muscle injury, he watched as James Jones and Randall Cobb broke through, combining for 1,738 yards and 22 scores.

Jennings celebrated those successes but wasn’t ready to slide quietly into a greatly diminished role.

He felt compelled to prove his career success hasn’t solely been a byproduct of having played with future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Rodgers and Brett Favre.

Jennings isn’t sure enough outsiders remember that during Rodgers’ first year as a starter in 2008, he was the quarterback’s top target, catching 80 passes for 1,292 yards with nine TDs. Or that he continued to aid Rodgers’ ascension with more than 2,300 receiving yards and 16 scores over the following two seasons.

“I was kind of that comfort blanket so to speak,” Jennings said. “But this is a quarterback-driven league, so people forget about the guys around the quarterback.”

Jennings wanted his abilities appreciated. So in his final months with the Packers, he started thinking more about what was next.

“Maybe,” he said, “I need to go back to my college days where the quarterback wasn’t just viewed as oh-so-great and still prove that I can be successful.”

If Jennings hadn’t tired of Rod­gers specifically, he certainly had his fill of the environment in Green Bay, wondering if the ubiquitous Rodgers lovefest had created a narrative that de-emphasized the strength of the group.

Throughout this offseason, Jennings has subtly jabbed Rodgers, rarely calling him by name and referring to him instead as “12” or “the guy they have now.”

“A lot of times when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team,” he said. “It should always be the team.”

Asked in a later conversation to clarify those sentiments, Jennings expanded.

“For me, I’m such a team person, I’m going to defer to my teammates,” he said. “I’m going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you’re not deferring any longer, it’s no longer really about the team.”

Jennings paused and looked around.

“Don’t get me wrong, ‘12’ is a great person. But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it’s hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says ‘Man, come on, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable for this.’ It’s hard for someone to see that now because all they’ve heard is I’m doing it the right way, I’m perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws.”

Helping hand

Separated now from Rodgers and the Packers, Jennings knows a major catalyst for his success is out of the equation.

Yet Jennings also holds an opportunity — the edict really — to elevate Ponder, his new quarterback.

“I’m not saying that if I had wrote a script, this would hands down be the ideal position for me to be in,” Jennings said. “I don’t know. Only God knows that. But for me, it’s a challenge. It’s a change of gear to where now I don’t have that [established] quarterback. That’s what everybody is saying. But in my mind, I don’t need that quarterback for us to be successful.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Detroit 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Texas 1
Boston 1 Bottom 6th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City 2 Top 7th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 0 Top 2nd Inning
LA Angels 0
Colorado 0 Top 2nd Inning
San Diego 0
Los Angeles 0 Bottom 1st Inning
San Francisco 0
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 90 4th Qtr 1:59
Memphis 91
Detroit 110 4th Qtr 2:07
Oklahoma City 106
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 95 4th Qtr 3:15
Miami 85
Utah 111 1st OT 4:03
Minnesota 110
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 90 4th Qtr 1:39
New York 90
Golden State 9:30 PM
Denver
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Portland
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Sacramento
Montreal 4 1st OT 7:26
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 0 1st Prd 15:35
Anaheim 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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