8:30 PM ET, October 27, 2013
Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN
He's got enough to worry with his Minnesota Vikings making another change at quarterback.
Christian Ponder is back as the starter for Sunday night's final Metrodome matchup between these NFC North rivals, who are meeting for the first time since the playoffs last season.
The storyline for this game figured to be Jennings, who spent the previous seven years with Green Bay (4-2) before signing a five-year deal with Minnesota (1-5) in March. Jennings not only performed the same switch of sides in this rivalry as Brett Favre's, he took the extra step of criticizing Aaron Rodgers' leadership in an offseason interview with a Minneapolis newspaper.
Jennings, who refused to call the quarterback by name then, now claims that he was just joking around.
"If Aaron knows me like he's known me the past seven years, then he knows I'm not one of those guys that wishes ill on anyone or just tries to stand out and be apart from the team," Jennings said. "Hopefully, he knows that."
Rodgers may know Jennings better than any of his current team's QBs. This will mark the third straight week Jennings will be working with a new starter under center, with Ponder getting the call after he started the first three games.
That's because Josh Freeman, signed by Minnesota on Oct. 7 after he was cut by Tampa Bay four days earlier, has concussion-like symptoms. Freeman was 20 of 53 for 190 yards and an interception in his Vikings debut, a 23-7 road loss to the New York Giants on Monday.
Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said that Ponder will practice with the first unit this week. With the Vikings facing a short week, Ponder is expected to start.
"At the quarterback position, you want to know who is going to be lining up week-in and week-out," Frazier said. "But that's the circumstance where we are and Christian will do a good job for us on Sunday night."
Jennings is trying to rally behind Ponder after Freeman started last week and Matt Cassel the two previous contests.
"It doesn't matter who it is, we have to help him be successful and he has to help us be successful so it's Christian this week, that's who we're rolling with, that's who we're rooting for," Jennings said.
Ponder was out with a triceps injury when Minnesota fell 24-10 at Green Bay in a wild-card game last season. Joe Webb was forced into action that day.
The Vikings earned that postseason berth with a 37-34 home win over the Packers the week before on Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time expired. Adrian Peterson rushed for 199 yards on 34 carries, cementing his first MVP award.
Peterson rushed for 409 yards as these teams split their regular-season meetings last season before he gained 99 on 22 carries in the playoff game.
However, he was held to a season-low 28 yards on 13 carries Monday and now faces a Packers defense that ranks first in the NFC against the run by yielding 79.0 yards per game.
"They do a good job on defense of bottling things up and trying to defend the run," Frazier said.
The injury-plagued Packers have won three straight after Rodgers threw for three scores in a 31-13 home victory over Cleveland last Sunday. However, they lost tight end Jermichael Finley to a significant neck injury.
Green Bay played that contest without linebackers Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Brad Jones as well as receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones. James Jones seems to be the most likely to return from that group.
"We're going to have 46 guys lined up against the Minnesota Vikings and we're going to the Metrodome to win," coach Mike McCarthy said.
Second-year receiver Jarrett Boykin had eight catches for 103 yards and a TD in his first career start last week. Jordy Nelson is the only mainstay who is definitely available from a receiving corps that was once considered one of the best in the NFL.
Jennings was a longtime part of that group, combining with Rodgers for 425 receptions and 53 touchdowns in the previous seven seasons.
"I still have a love for those fans and for that organization, absolutely, and the guys within that locker room, but I'm developing new ties and new relationships over here," Jennings said.
Rodgers was sacked 10 times by Minnesota last season -- four by Jared Allen. The star defensive end has a team-high four sacks this season, but the Vikings have only 12 for the fifth-lowest total in the league.
The Packers are 14-16 at the Metrodome, where the Vikings are playing for the final season.
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|Avg Points Allowed||22.6||32.1|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||GB|
|Rush Yds Allowed||GB|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Green Bay leads 17-10|
|Jan 5, 2013||GB 24, MIN 10|
|Dec 30, 2012||GB 34, @MIN 37|
|Dec 2, 2012||GB 23, MIN 14|
|Nov 14, 2011||GB 45, MIN 7|
|Oct 23, 2011||GB 33, @MIN 27|
|Nov 21, 2010||GB 31, @MIN 3|
|Oct 24, 2010||GB 28, MIN 24|
|Nov 1, 2009||GB 26, MIN 38|
|Oct 5, 2009||GB 23, @MIN 30|
|Nov 9, 2008||GB 27, @MIN 28|
|Sep 8, 2008||GB 24, MIN 19|
|Nov 11, 2007||GB 34, MIN 0|
|Sep 30, 2007||GB 23, @MIN 16|
|Dec 21, 2006||GB 9, MIN 7|
|Nov 12, 2006||GB 23, @MIN 17|
|Nov 21, 2005||GB 17, MIN 20|
|Oct 23, 2005||GB 20, @MIN 23|
|Jan 9, 2005||GB 17, MIN 31|
|Dec 24, 2004||GB 34, @MIN 31|
|Nov 14, 2004||GB 34, MIN 31|
|Nov 2, 2003||GB 30, @MIN 27|
|Sep 7, 2003||GB 25, MIN 30|
|Dec 8, 2002||GB 26, MIN 22|
|Nov 17, 2002||GB 21, @MIN 31|
|Dec 30, 2001||GB 24, MIN 13|
|Oct 21, 2001||GB 13, @MIN 35|
Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb and James Jones have made up nearly half of Aaron Rodgers' passes this season, and all three are likely out for Week 8. Rodgers still has Jordy Nelson, but not much else.[+]
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