Jennings: ‘I need the work' in preseason

Greg Jennings (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

Greg Jennings is entering his eighth NFL season, but he knows he and Christian Ponder have work to do before the start of the regular season so Jennings isn't taking his old approach to the preseason. Plus, injury updates and notes from Wednesday's long, steamy practice.

Greg Jennings isn't taking the normal approach for a seven-year veteran of the NFL.

He has a renewed emphasis on playing in the preseason and getting used to all things new – the uniform, the quarterback, the offense and where he fits in. After seven years with the Green Bay Packers, there is a lot to get accustomed to now that the veteran receiver has moved across the border to Minnesota.

Preseason snaps have a new relevance to him.

"You didn't always want those in the past. Being in the (Green Bay Packers) system for a long time, it's like, OK, I got it," he said. "… It was a little different when you're accustomed to playing in a system, but being in a new system you want to get as many reps as you can get at all times.

In the preseason opener, Jennings was among the nine starters on offense that played only two snaps. Both of QB Christian Ponder's passes were targeted at Jerome Simpson before Jennings and company went to the sideline for the rest of the game.

Last week against the Buffalo Bills, Jennings got 23 snaps on offense, or 33 percent of the total offensive snaps. And this Sunday night, in what is often referred to as the dress rehearsal to the regular season, Jennings is looking forward to getting as much time with Ponder as possible.

"I know for me, personally, getting the offense down, getting it at a game rate, it feels good to get out there and get comfortable, just hearing the calls, looking at the defense, seeing what they're doing, reacting and playing football," Jennings said. "So it definitely prepares you. I think you're behind the eight-ball if you don't get preseason work. But at the same time, you have to be smart with how much work you give your guys and how much you don't give your guys.

"In my opinion, I need the work because I haven't been here. This is a new system, a new quarterback, a new team chemistry, so I need the work. I've got to feel comfortable in the offense in a game setting. In practice, it's cool. I've got it. Everything is kind of habitual now. But in the game, things kind of change up. You've got an opponent who's going to throw some different looks, unscouted looks at you. You may not have prepared for it."

It would also help with the timing between Jennings and Ponder. The quarterback targeted his big-money receiver only three times in those 23 snaps Friday night. Jennings caught the first one for a 5-yard gain, but the next two – both passes in the right flat – were wide of him.

"Kinks will never completely be ironed out. There will always be a new wrinkle that we put in that we're going to be trying to perfect," Jennings said. "Just our relationship, our chemistry, we're going to try to perfect that forever. As long as we're together we're going to be trying to perfect it. It will never be perfected, which is the good thing because we'll always have something to improve on."

Jennings is expected to be the workhorse of the receiver corps, but so far he has only been the target of three of Ponder's 16 passes when Jennings is in the game.

Jennings said there was a lot of self-scouting going on after the Vikings offense turned in a poor performance in their 20-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the second preseason game. That self-scout was being done on an individual level, too.

"I will never be where I need to be. So you'll hear me say that all year. I am not where I need to be," Jennings said. "I don't care how great I'm playing, how poor I'm playing, I will never be where I need to be, and that's just the way I look at things. That's just the way I look at life. There's always room for improvement.

"Individually, there was definitely things I feel like that I could have done better as far as precision in my route running, different things to help the quarterback."

NOTES

  • Undrafted rookie LB Nathan Williams, who suffered an ankle injury during the offseason and didn't practice at all during training camp, has found a new home. After reaching an injury settlement with the Vikings earlier this month, Williams signed Tuesday with the Miami Dolphins.

  • Another former Viking, guard Chris DeGeare, was waived/injured from the New York Giants.

  • The Vikings expect FB Jerome Felton, who had an emergency appendectomy last week, to be ready for the start of the regular season, if not before. "From what the doctors are telling me, it's a two-week recovery," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "That means we should be able to get some work out of him for sure after the Tennessee ballgame and maybe the week of Tennessee, although that's a very short week. But for sure after that ballgame we should be able to get some work."

    Felton attended Wednesday's practice in street clothes.

  • Desmond Bishop did, indeed, get a few reps with the first-team base defense during Wednesday's 2½-hour practice in the heat. The Vikings are hoping to get him snaps with the first team to evaluate his potential as a starter at the beginning of the regular season.

  • Two injuries appeared minor in Wednesday's practice. Simpson left the field for a short while with athletic trainer Eric Sugarman and Dr. Joel Boyd but returned later in practice. CB Xavier Rhodes got up limping after a collision on a pass to WR Lamark Brown but didn't miss a practice snap.

  • One-on-one work got more spirited after rookie WR Rodney Smith started talking trash after S Mistral Raymond was called for pass interference while trying to cover Smith. That prompted S Jamarca Sanford onto the field to challenge Smith when his rotation came up next. Smith beat Sanford on a crossing route.

  • Former Vikings LB Matt Blair attended practice.

  • For those keeping score, newly signed DE Spencer Nealy is wearing number 60.


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