GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers isn’t interested in a back-and-forth battle of words with former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings.
After answering multiple questions about Ryan Braun on Friday, Rodgers had another fire to put out. Since signing with the Minnesota Vikings in March, Jennings has made several negative statements about Rodgers and about the way the Packers operate.
Rodgers heard those comments, but the former MVP quarterback doesn’t seem to care what Jennings has to say.
“Well, like I said last year when there was some comments kind of like this, I’ve got a great responsibility to the guys in this locker room and the fans, and at this point, I don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to spend worrying about things that are said outside the building,” Rodgers said in the locker room following Green Bay’s first training camp practice. “I know those are stories for you guys, but personally, I’m focused on this team. Obviously, you hear about them, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy on them.”
Jennings questioned Rodgers’ leadership, telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune this week that “when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team. It should always be the team.”
Rodgers was asked if he was disappointed that Jennings didn’t think more highly of his leadership.
“To me, I’m concerned with the opinions of the guys in this locker room and the guys we have here,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got 90 guys right now. It’s exciting to be able to be one of the leaders of this football team, and I’m very confident in my style. I think the guys respond well to it. It’s fun being the oldest, longest-tenured guy on the team.
“I’ve seen a lot, I’ve been around a lot, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons. And I think one of the lessons you learn is that you can’t control everything and you shouldn’t worry too much about the things that are said outside the building. You worry about the opinions of your teammates and how they feel about you.”
Jennings’ comments also went beyond Rodgers, describing the Packers organization as “cookie-cutter” and saying that he now isn’t “walking on eggshells” in Minnesota.
Jordy Nelson, who spent five years working alongside Jennings as wide receivers in Green Bay, spoke with his former teammate “two or three times” this offseason. However, Nelson hasn’t talked with Jennings recently and admitted that he didn’t expect him to say the things that he did.
“I think anytime anybody says anything about your team, you’re surprised,” Nelson said. “I think you might be more surprised if it’s a former player. I’m a little bit surprised. You can’t control what someone’s going to say, so you just have to move on.”
Nelson didn’t get the sense last season that Jennings was overly upset with Rodgers or with the team.
“I think everyone gets a little frustrated at different points in time,” Nelson said. “With his injury last year, that was part of it, too. We’re in the room day in and day out and we know how this place works. We have great respect for everyone in here and for everyone we play.”
Rodgers has had the benefit of being able to distribute the ball to a lot of high-quality receivers, but for every pass that’s caught, there’s more than one player not being targeted. That can be a difficult balancing act for Rodgers, but Nelson has a solution to it.
“You want to keep everyone happy in this locker room? Win the game,” Nelson said. “That’s what it comes down to. In our room, over the last few years, obviously we’ve been very deep and have had to share reps. All we’ve preached in our room is make the most of your opportunities. The only time guys might get a little upset … we get upset with each other if you drop a ball because that’s a ball that you should have caught or I could have caught.
“As long as JJ (James Jones) is out catching 14 touchdowns, we’re going to be happy for him and not have a problem. He’s doing his job. That’s what we preach in our room every day. From old guys to young guys, you just have to make the most of your opportunities.”
Jennings led Green Bay in receiving yards for three consecutive seasons from 2008-10, but his string of injuries and the emergence of Nelson and Randall Cobb dropped his production in the past two years.
Even with Jennings gone and Donald Driver retired, Rodgers believes the Packers have “one of the best threesomes” in the NFL with Cobb, Nelson and Jones. Jennings, in a role that he seemed to desire, will immediately become the No. 1 go-to receiver with the Vikings this season.