EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — When Greg Jennings unlaced his cleats at season's end, he did so with a good idea of when the next time he'd wear them will be.
The Vikings receiver, who just completed his second season in Minnesota and ninth in the NFL, has developed a system for rest and recovery before returning to the rigorous training schedule required for professional football.
Jennings has adjusted his plans over the course of his career, building on knowledge from previous offseasons, but recently explored a new experience when he ice skated with his family for the first time.
"I was very nervous ice skating, I'm not going to lie. It was my first time ever being on skates, and I made sure I waited until after the season just in case, but it wasn't bad," Jennings said. "I can roller skate, and I didn't think it was going to be that far off from roller skating, and it's not, but it's definitely different. The toughest part is adjusting to the ice skates. They're not comfortable. They're very, very uncomfortable."
Jennings likely will have a few more opportunities to adjust to the blades and the slick surface as he spends his increased free time as what he calls "Daddy Mommy" to assist his wife, Nicole, with their four children. He formerly launched back into training almost immediately, but has learned multiple benefits of a little break, Jennings said when he stopped by the Xfinity Studio at Winter Park to participate in an upcoming project for Vikings.com.
"I definitely have to take the time to kind of just relax. I spend a lot of time with family," Jennings said. "I look at it as I become kind of 'Daddy Mommy' because I do everything with the kids and try to take a bunch of the load off my wife, but for me, I'll start back training, and it's about that mindset.
"I know I have to stay above the curve because I am older," Jennings said. "A younger guy can bounce back a lot quicker — not that I can't bounce back, but it does take a little bit more time. I'm not naïve to that, but when I do get back to it, it will be business as usual and I'll be ready to go when the season comes and be excited just like everyone will be when next year comes around, but it is too early to talk about next year."
As for this past year, Jennings finished with 59 receptions, including a team-high 19 on third downs, for 742 yards and six TD catches in 2014. The production on third down illustrates the reliability factor that formed between he and rookie Teddy Bridgewater as the season developed. Bridgewater, who won six of his 12 starts and shattered multiple records, finished his first campaign with soaring stats (click here to vote for him for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year).
"It's very encouraging, and when it comes to a quarterback-receiver relationship, it's one that it's very rare that it happens quickly unless you have an elder statesman at quarterback and a younger guy at receiver," Jennings said. "You see that combination blossom a lot quicker than you do a young quarterback with older receivers around him.
"I think with what Teddy has done in his maturation over the course of the year, really coming into his own, he already had the poise, he already had the ability, but it was about putting those two together and playing 'Teddy football' instead of what everybody else around him wanted him to play like," Jennings continued. "The way I always explain it to guys is they drafted you for what they saw. They're not drafting you to be a robot, so just be who you are, be who you've always been, and toward the latter end of the season, you saw him coming into his own, being comfortable with playing, not over-thinking about a throw or anything, just kind of making it happen, and that's when plays start to happen."