Last year Greg Jennings led the Vikings with 68 catches and 804 receiving yards. This year, if all goes according to plan, it will be Cordarrelle Patterson who serves as the team’s top receiver. And Jennings welcomes that.
Jennings told ESPN.com that after talking with head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, he could see that the new coaching staff wants to make the talented Patterson the focal point of the passing game. Rather than grousing about having fewer passes thrown his way this year, Jennings has taken it upon himself to impress on Patterson that he needs to be ready to take a big step up in his second season.
“I wanted him to know that, coming in, the expectation of you is no longer ‘rookie.’ It’s, ‘You gotta go. We saw what you can do. We’re gonna showcase this,’” Jennings said. “For me, it was making sure that he understands that he has to be a professional. He has to be a pro’s pro when he steps foot in this building, because we’re expecting [him] to give us what we’ve seen you put out there.”
Patterson wasn’t always the most consistent player as a rookie, but he was dynamite with the ball in his hands: Among his touchdowns were a 79-yard reception, runs of 33, 35 and 50 yards, and kickoff returns of 105 and 109 yards. Jennings said Patterson needs to be given more opportunities to do that.
“I’m going to be honest: Once I saw him make a couple plays, I’m like, ‘We’ve got to get him the ball. He does too much well for us not to get him the ball,’” Jennings said.
It could be said that more passes thrown to Patterson will mean fewer for Jennings, but Jennings isn’t worried about that.
“If I’m having success, it’s going to open up the door for success for other guys,” Jennings said. “If Cordarrelle’s having success, it’s going to open up the door for a lot of other guys, as well.”
Patterson’s success (or lack thereof) will be a major part of the Vikings’ success (or lack thereof), and Jennings knows that part of his role as the veteran in the receiving corps is to pave the way for Patterson to take his place as the No. 1 receiver.