Life after Aaron Rodgers continues to have its ups-and-downs for Greg Jennings.
Thursday night definitely tilted toward the latter for the former Green Bay Packers receiver.
Jennings' fast start to his second season with the Minnesota Vikings came to screeching halt when backup quarterback Christian Ponder stepped in for an injured Teddy Bridgewater, who missed the 42-10 blowout with a sprained ankle.
Jennings was targeted six times by Ponder, but caught only two passes for 31 yards against his former team. His first catch came with the Vikings trailing 42-0 with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
The 31-year-old receiver had to go high to bring down his second catch off a Ponder floater in the four quarter only to be greeted by a sturdy hit in the back from a charging Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
The Packers were 74-38 in Jennings' seven seasons with Green Bay. The wins (and catches) have been more difficult to come by in Minnesota. Last season, he had 68 catches for 804 yards and three touchdowns in his first year of a five-year, $45 million deal.
The money is good. So, too, are the education opportunities. But not having an MVP quarterback throwing him the football has made the game a bit more challenging. The Vikings are also 7-13-1 in his tenure.
"I can only do my part," Jennings said in the locker room afterward. "That's one the thing that always sucks about playing receiver is that you can't throw yourself the ball, you can't do things yourself. You have to just play within the scheme and hope that you can make an impact same way.
"It's just disappointing, it is disappointing because just like every other guy in this locker room I want to beat this team."
Letroy Guion was enjoying himself on the opposite sideline. The sixth-year defensive lineman was cut loose by the Vikings last offseason. He claims they offered him a reduced contract to return, but Guion opted for a one-year deal with the Packers instead.
The Packers came into Thursday ranked dead-last in run defense (176.0 yards per game), but Guion and the rest of the line came to play. The 27-year-old arguably had the game of his career with four tackles, 1½ sacks and three hits on Ponder.
Guion busted out an interesting celebration after a fourth-quarter sack of Ponder, whipping his head back twice and yelling into the cool night air. "I practiced that," Guion said. "I was planning on getting a couple sacks tonight."
The Packers signed Guion in hopes he'd become a rotational linemen on their new-look defensive line. That was until B.J. Raji's season-ending biceps injury thrust him into a starting role.
It's been a slow start for the 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive lineman after missing most of camp with a hamstring injury. Prior to Thursday, Guion had three tackles in his first four games.
Afterward in the locker room, Guion said he had added motivated to show up his former team. His teammates see it this week in practice.
"Most definitely," Guion said. "You get juiced up when you're playing against your old team and showing them what they missed."
Jennings hasn't been able to say the same. He was held to one catch for 9 yards in his first game against the Packers last season and still only has five for 69 yards in three matchups.
Although his first catch on Thursday night resulted in a loud round of boos from the Lambeau Field crowd, Jennings took a moment after the game to give a few high-5s. A once-popular personality in Green Bay, his parting comments about Aaron Rodgers and the team's culture rubbed many fans the wrong way.
Jennings will get another shot at the Packers at the end of next month in Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Vikings have 10 days until their next game against the Detroit Lions.
"Is there a little bit more that kind of tries to creep up in there, a little more weight and throwing all the cards in and putting everything into this one? Absolutely," Jennings said. "But the end result is still to win the ball game, that's just not what we did."
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