Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Access Vikings: Think Greg Jennings is happy to be a Viking?

Posted by: under Vikings Updated: June 19, 2013 - 7:13 PM

The Vikings are asking a lot from Greg Jennings in the early stages of his tenure here. In addition to the consistent productivity that will be expected when the regular season starts and the stakes rise, the Vikings are also banking heavily on Jennings’ leadership, hoping his professionalism and enthusiasm will prove infectious to those around him, most notably quarterback Christian Ponder and a pack of young receivers that includes Jarius Wright, Joe Webb and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.

Since signing a five-year free agent contract with the Vikings in March, Jennings has been nothing but positive about his initiation into the organization and reiterated before Wednesday’s mini-camp practice that his enthusiasm about what’s ahead continues to grow.

“I love it. I’m still very excited about the opportunities that are ahead,” Jennings told Access Vikings. “There’s definitely still some chemistry that needs to be developed. Trust with the unfamiliar territory of Christian seeing me, me seeing him, that will take some time. But it’s already starting to show itself.”

Jennings has been clear that his exit from Green Bay came at the right time and that in Minnesota he’s found a terrific fit and a perfect new beginning.

Still, it’s hard for him to narrow down the biggest reason for why he’s feeling so much more refreshed and inspired.

“It may sound strange but every part of this is what makes it so energizing,” he said. “I can’t single out just one thing and say, ‘Aw man, this is what makes this situation better.’ It’s the sum of all parts. It’s collectively the things I walked into. The coaching staff is God-fearing. The relationships I was able to develop here right off the jump. Just everything.

“It’s been a combination of a variety of things. And if it were one thing that stood out above the rest, it was Coach Frazier. Coach Frazier.”

In Frazier, Jennings has found a vision for championship football that he believes in and wants to subscribe to.

“I’m so impressed with his mindset in trying to impact and change the culture,” Jennings said. “That’s huge. Huge. … His vision just needs a following. And not everyone is going to be willing to buy in. But if you can get the core guys to buy in, everyone else will naturally follow suit.

Jennings also spoke with reporters following Wednesday’s practice and discussed his continued adaptation to his new offense and his new teammates.

Here are a few more poignant thoughts from the 29-year old receiver as the Vikings’ offseason preparations draw to a close.

On what he likes about rookie Cordarrelle Patterson and his continued growth …

“The progression, the way he’s made the progression. He’s made it easy. You get a young guy who’s willing to work, who’s willing to [be a] sponge, but they work at their craft, they make it so much easier. For me as an older guy, a vet that’s been through it, you see a guy like that who’s working and working hard to get better week in and week out and seeing him make those jumps, it makes you feel good. But at the same time, it’s like, OK, I’ve got to add some of what he’s doing in my game. I’ve got to sponge off what he has, too. It’s been a give and take relationship.”

On what from Patterson’s skill set he’d like to borrow for his own game …

“Number one: his speed. [I’m like] ‘Can you share some of that, please?’ His ability to go up and get the ball, his physicality at the line of scrimmage. Different things. I told him, the one thing I noticed in his route running that he has is he has that definitive step at the top. I remember coming in with that definitive step. And that kind of gets washed out because everything they teach you at this level, they want everything to look the same. So that definitive step starts to fade away. But that’s what creates that separation. I just told him, ‘Do not lose that.’ Because the more I see him do that, the more I remember when I used to do that and create even more separation, and I’m starting to creep that back in. … There’s nothing wrong with it. Sometimes you can use it too much. You can overuse it, but I love it. Most coaches tell you, ‘We don’t need all that extra.’ But sometimes what makes a player what he is are the things that we try to take away. It comes natural. That’s a gift, you can’t really teach that. And he has it.”

On playing with Christian Ponder …

“I love him. I love his personality, I love his demeanor on the field. The one thing we talk about, and I’ve shared with him more than anything, is the trust factor. Because he has everything he needs. The skill set? He has it. It’s just about trusting the other guy. It’s just about trusting that we’re going to be where he’s knowing that we should be. And us trusting that he’s going to have the ball where we know it should be. That’s the one thing that kind of takes that split second off our timing. Other than that, once we develop that trust, and that comfort, the sky’s the limit.”

 

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