Vikings hope receivers are a catch-all group

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 31, 2013 - 6:16 PM

The NFL’s second-worst passing attack adds Jennings, Patterson to seek balance.

hide

Christian Ponder’s revamped receiving corps this season includes, from left, second-year man Jarius Wright, first round pick Cordarrelle Patterson, ex-Packer Greg Jennings and holdover Jerome Simpson.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

If only it were as simple as handing Adrian Peterson the ball and piggybacking him down the field. But it’s not. ¶ A year ago, Peterson rushed for 409 yards in two regular-season games against the Packers. The Vikings lost the first one with Peterson rushing for 210 yards. In the rematch, Peterson went for 199, but the Vikings still needed a last-second field goal and the best game of quarterback Christian Ponder’s young career to win by three points. ¶ Translation: Even “Purple Jesus” needs help parting 11 NFL defenders.

Here are three things that will help the Vikings improve upon last year’s 31st-ranked passing attack and provide the kind of balance that could make Peterson even harder to handle than the guy who ran for 2,097 yards en route to last year’s NFL Most Valuable Player award:

Speedy transition for Jennings

Receiver Greg Jennings spent the past eight seasons catching 425 passes from two Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks with rocket arms who knew the ins and outs of his exceptional but unusual route-running skills. The question now is how quickly Ponder, who doesn’t have that kind of arm strength and isn’t Canton-bound, can get in sync with Jennings.

“Greg is not a typical route runner,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “He does a lot of stemming in his routes. If he wants to run an out route, he is not going to just run straight up the field and break out, but he is going to stem the defensive back inside, and try to get his hips turned, get his feet out of whack, and then he will break outside.

“When he releases from press coverages, he is not a guy that is just going to release to you, but he does a lot of shaking at the line of scrimmage. For a quarterback, you need to adjust to how he runs routes, and how effective he is at getting it done, because you don’t want to change what Greg has done to this point.”

Jennings has been complimentary of Ponder but has mentioned on a few occasions that the young QB still needs to learn how to trust his receivers. Jennings is a difficult receiver to learn, and he and Ponder haven’t gotten much preseason work together. So this obviously will be an area to keep an eye on early in the season.

Tapping Patterson’s athleticism

Jennings never was a one-man receiving corps in Green Bay. The Packers’ knack for acquiring waves of excellent wideouts rivals their ability to spot future Hall of Fame quarterbacks that others have overlooked.

In other words, Jennings needs other receivers to help distract the defense. A bounce-back year from Jerome Simpson or a breakout year from Jarius Wright would be nice. But the most explosive scenario could be rookie first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson immediately living up to his status as the most physically gifted receiver on the roster.

“You don’t teach that kind of talent,” Jennings said. “He has it. He has the skill set. He knows what he can do out there. It’s just a matter of being in football shape and making sure he does it every play, not just one play here and one play there.”

Patterson has unusual speed considering it comes in a 6-2, 220-pound package. But it’s his raw route-running that’s in question and could limit his effectiveness as an every-down receiver this season.

“Cordarrelle is not a bad route-runner at all,” Jennings said. “I think he just has to learn how to control his speed and use it. He’s a young guy. His talent is going to do a lot for him. But it’s using that talent and kind of honing it the right way to where he can be a heck of a player in this league. I’m sure he will be. But I’m talking about right now. He could be a dynamic player for us right now.”

Sharpening Ponder’s accuracy

For a variety of reasons, not all of them his fault, Ponder hasn’t been an accurate passer since he completed 68.8 percent of his passes as a junior at Florida State.

His .618 career college completion percentage, which isn’t good enough at the NFL level, was a topic of discussion at Winter Park before the Vikings selected Ponder 12th overall in the 2011 draft.

“When we were searching for a quarterback, we were trying to answer that question of whether a guy can improve his accuracy,” Frazier said. “We think that there are some things that you can do to help a guy improve his accuracy, but if there is one characteristic that can be a flaw when you are trying to develop a quarterback, it is the lack of accuracy.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - C. Morton
Toronto - D. Hutchison 6:05 PM
Baltimore - U. Jimenez
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
NY Yankees - M. Pineda 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cincinnati - J. Cueto 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Houston - N. Tropeano
Detroit - R. Porcello 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 7:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
Los Angeles - D. Haren 7:40 PM
Colorado - T. Matzek
San Francisco - J. Peavy 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Seattle - R. Elias 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Texas - N. Tepesch 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 9:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How do you feel about the decision to reinstate Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close