“We want to be more efficient in that area,” Frazier said, “so it will be a point of emphasis again.”
A new feel
In March, four days after trading last year’s top receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle, the Vikings signed Jennings with an expectation that the eighth-year vet could immediately become Ponder’s top target.
But for Jennings to have a chance at posting his fourth career 1,000-yard season, he and Ponder must continue getting in sync. That in itself was a work in progress during training camp because of Jennings’ unique movements in his route running, nuances Ponder continues feeling out.
“The way he attacks leverage and stuff, he has a lot of movement with his body and his head,” Ponder said. “Which is great. He does a great job of getting open. But it’s a little different when you watch him on film. … I don’t think it’s timing. But if you watch his angles and how he comes out of cuts, it’s different.”
Added Frazier: “If he’s going to run an out route for example, he’s not just going to run straight up the field and break out. He’s going to stem the defensive back inside to try and get his hips turned or his feet out of whack and then he’ll break out. And when he releases from press coverage, he’s not a guy who’s going to release into you. He does a lot of shaking at the line of scrimmage. So for a quarterback, you have to adjust to how he runs his routes.”
Among the many strides Ponder made in Mankato, he learned to better understand Jennings’ movements. Now comes another test at game speed against an unfamiliar opponent with so many moving parts of the passing game needing to be calibrated.
“We want to see a high level of execution,” Ponder said. “We’re trying to keep developing this passing game and striving for greatness in that area. And we want to get some of those young guys to keep progressing, which they are. I think these next two games are crucial for us as a first-team offense.”