It's been a quick rise up the list for WR Greg Jennings. And I'm not talking about the payroll list, although he's near the top when you consider his fat new contract extension. I'm talking about his importance to the team.
He got off to quick start to his career in 2006, averaging 5 catches and 90 yards in his first 4 starts. But he came back too soon from a hamstring injury, and the 2nd half of his rookie season was a disaster. The final straw was the week 16 game vs. Minnesota when he caught only 1 pass for 2 yards, although nearly a dozen passes were thrown his way. The week after, he sat out the season finale in Chicago.
He missed the first two games of 2007, but made up for it the rest of the year. At first, opponents spent too much time focused on WR Donald Driver and often left Jennings in single coverage. But even after defenses adjusted, he was hard to stop. He could have taken the Pro Bowl spot away from Driver that season, and it wouldn't have been a shock.
In 2008, he became the heart of the offense. When he isn't involved, they struggle to keep drives alive. For example, in the loss last season at Jacksonville, the 60 yard TD drive (the only one of the game) was all QB Aaron Rodgers to Jennings. He had 3 receptions on that drive and zero the rest of the game. When Rodgers struggled to find him open, the offense was lucky to string together a field goal drive.
Which brings up a good point about Jennings. As good as he has been over the past two seasons, he's not the best in the NFL (or NFC). Rodgers can't just force the ball in to him and expect good things to happen. He can still get better. He and Rodgers should continue to improve the longer they are teammates, which as of right now is contractually for at least the next four seasons. His best is yet to come.