The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 14, 2013

Packers free agent WR Jennings visits Vikings

— The Minnesota Vikings are interested in wide receiver Greg Jennings, the latest Green Bay Packers free agent pursued by their NFC North rival.

The agent for Jennings, Eugene Parker, told The Associated Press his client was visiting the Vikings on Thursday. ESPN first reported the trip.

The 29-year-old Jennings played in only eight games for the Packers in 2012, plus two in the playoffs, because of a torn lower abdominal muscle and finished with a career-low 366 yards receiving with an average of 10.2 yards per catch, also his worst NFL total. In 2011, he missed three games with a sprained left knee.

But as the Vikings well know, Jennings has been one of the best in the league since he was drafted in the second round in 2006 out of Western Michigan. He has three years of at least 1,100 yards receiving and two 12-touchdown seasons. In 14 career games against the Vikings, Jennings racked up 964 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Packers won 10 times.

The Vikings sure haven't been shy about signing players from their fiercest intra-division competitor.

They brought in safety Darren Sharper in 2005, kicker Ryan Longwell in 2006 and wide receiver Robert Ferguson in 2007. They've tried to woo others in recent years, too: fullback William Henderson, defensive end Aaron Kampman and wide receiver James Jones.

Then, of course, there was Brett Favre, whose embittered departure from the Packers in 2008 paved the way for him joining the Vikings in 2009 and nearly taking them to the Super Bowl.

More important to the Vikings than nabbing a popular, productive player from the Packers, though, is upgrading their perilously thin group of wide receivers. After trading Percy Harvin, cutting Michael Jenkins and letting Devin Aromashodu become a free agent, the Vikings currently have only three players at the position with any NFL experience: Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton. Wright has played in seven career games. Burton has seven career catches.

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