Green Bay Packers: What to Expect from Greg Jennings in Week 1
Had it not been for a knee injury in Week 14 against the Oakland Raiders forcing him to miss the last three games of the regular season, Jennings would have surely put together his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2011.
Now, the seventh-year wideout is back to headline a deadly arsenal of weapons for quarterback Aaron Rodgers to utilize. The Packers mesmerized opposing defenses last season, as Rodgers went on to throw for more than 4,600 yards along with 45 touchdown passes and a league-high 122.5 passer rating. However, all of it went to waste when the Packers were upset by the New York Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs in January—a loss that probably still stings almost nine months later.
Jennings & Co. will do their best to get things rolling in the 2012 season, but a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers' stingy defense will be a tough task.
Here is what you can expect from Jennings in Week 1.
A Motivated Wideout
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As if Jennings needed any more motivation after a disappointing end to last season, the Packers wide receiver may be playing in his final season in Green Bay.
With only one year remaining on the three-year extension he signed in 2009, Jennings will become a free agent this offseason. According to an article on wbay.com, Jennings has "been telling reporters the last two days he is preparing as if this will be his last year in Green Bay."
Nevertheless, Jennings has reiterated that his mind is on the upcoming season, according to Kevin Seifert's article on espn.com.
"There is really nothing else I can really say or do. The ball is not in my court at all. I have to play the cards that I'm dealt. Right now it's football. That's my focus."
Expect Rodgers' key target to prove he is worthy of a new deal.
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When it comes to defending the Packers' offense, pick your poison.
With Jennings, in addition to receivers Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver and tight end Jermichael Finley, paying too much attention to one of them will allow the others to make your deathbed.
Last season, Jennings was a focus for most defenses, enabling Nelson to burn them for more than 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns (third most in the NFL). Nelson's explosion in 2011 will make defenses play more honest this season.
The 49ers will likely put their trust in cornerback Carlos Rodgers to contain Jennings on Sunday. Rodgers showed he was one of the league's best cover-corners last season, totaling six interceptions (tied for fourth most in the NFL). However, Jennings will give Rodgers everything he can handle. Possessing good speed and quick cuts out of his routes, good luck shutting down this wideout.
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Jennings has a knack for opening up the season with a bang.
In the last three season openers, Jennings has totaled at least 80 yards and a touchdown—all in Packers victories. Only a fool would expect anything different this season.
The 49ers sported the NFL's best rush defense in 2011 (giving up less than 78 yards per game), but were susceptible against the pass (16th in the NFL in pass defense).
Packers running backs Cedric Benson and James Starks should not be hot picks in Fantasy Football this week, but make sure to have Jennings in your starting lineup. The 5'11" wide receiver is sure to be seen leaping into a crowd of cheeseheads on Sunday.