It was so good to see Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings back in uniform on Sunday! Jennings didn’t have an explosive game against the Minnesota Vikings, recording four catches for 46 yards, but made a few clutch catches that reminded fans how much they had missed him.
Jennings’ presence was especially fortunate as heartthrob Jordy Nelson went down to yet another hamstring injury early in the first quarter. Considering the tricky nature of hamstring injuries, Nelson could miss additional time and having Jennings back in the lineup would go a long way in making up for Nelson’s penchant for big plays.
Jennings had not played in over two months, having had to resort to surgery for what was originally a groin injury that was later classified as an abdominal tear. In his absence, Nelson and, especially, Randall Cobb saw their roles expand. It is a testament to the Packers’ incredible depth at the position that they have barely missed a beat without their number one receiver.
After the game, Jennings said it “felt great getting hit a couple times, hitting the ground, getting dirty, making some plays.” Coaches tested out Jennings in the first half before ‘unleashing’ him in the second half, in Jennings’ words, and the receiver did not seem to feel any ill effects from his first game back.
It’s easy to think Jennings’ loss was not that big of a deal since the Green Bay receivers have stepped up so nicely, but getting Jennings’ back for the playoff push is huge. Jennings changes the offense because defenses always have to respect him. They have to lean their coverage towards his side of the field, often leaving Nelson, Cobb, James Jones, or Jermichael Finley in one-on-one situations. Teams that choose not to double-cover Jennings typically pay the price. Jennings has some of the best hands in the league and is great at picking up yards after the catch. I love his field vision and the precision with which he runs his routes that allows Aaron Rodgers to know Jennings will always be where he’s supposed to be on field.
Packer fans shouldn’t underestimate the importance of having Jennings back in play. Having a player of his caliber back will help the Packers offense to combat some of those lulls they’ve fallen into at different times in the season. That Cover-2 defense that everyone talks about will now have another threat to worry about. As long as he stays healthy, Jennings will be key in getting Green Bay to the playoffs and beyond.