Rodgers, Jennings Jelling
Next game: Sunday, September 21 vs. Dallas
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre used to say that he could simply nod to Donald Driver or whack Bubba Franks in the behind after breaking the huddle, and they'd immediately know what he was thinking.
But Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings says there's only one piece of evidence that really proves a quarterback and receiver are on the same page.
"Making plays -- that's the example," Jennings said.
And by that measure, Jennings and new Packers starter Aaron Rodgers are well on their way to establishing chemistry. Even in a talented group of receivers that includes the venerable veteran Driver, Jennings has stood out.
Going into Sunday night's game against Dallas at Lambeau Field, Jennings leads the Packers with 258 yards receiving. He hasn't yet caught a touchdown from Rodgers this season, but several of his long receptions have set up scoring chances.
"I think Aaron is doing a really good job of making the decisions based on what the defense is giving him," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Greg has benefited from it, and you'd like to see the ball continue to be spread around. That whole group takes great pride in yards after the catch. But there's definitely a chemistry that's building with the quarterback and the whole perimeter group."
A running joke in Packers training camp was that backup wide receiver Ruvell Martin was Rodgers' "guy," given their close friendship off the field and the good on-field chemistry they developed in their days on the scout team.
McCarthy joked Monday that Rodgers had no choice but to throw it to somebody else in the Packers' victory over the Lions on Sunday. Martin was sitting out with a broken finger.
"We're making progress with him not throwing the ball to Ruvell all the time," McCarthy said. "That's why we sat Ruvell down."
Laughs aside, the big plays suggest Jennings is emerging as Rodgers' go-to receiver. Rodgers says it's mostly the result of the time they've spent working together in the past several offseasons.
"I think we've just got a good feel for each other," Rodgers said. "He's been able to make some big plays for us, and we've been able to hit him behind their defense a couple of times."
Favre sometimes skipped out on optional workouts in recent offseasons, giving Rodgers a chance to work with the team's top receivers.
"There were a lot of times Brett wasn't here and Aaron was here," Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements said. "And he was acting as if he was the guy at that time, trying to get ready for a time when Brett wasn't here."
Packers wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson says Rodgers has chemistry with all the receivers, even if Jennings has stood out.
"He puts the ball somewhere in the vicinity and Greg, having the type of hands that he has, he's going to catch it 99 percent of the time," Robinson said. "So it's not something that I can say that I've overtly stood back and said, 'Boy, these guys have a great chemistry.' I think they do. But ... they're all working pretty well together.
"Greg's off to a big start, certainly, in terms of yardage and solid in terms of catches, so maybe that gets more of the attention. He's had a couple big plays down the field and that tends to jump out at you."
Jennings' leaping 56-yard reception set up Green Bay's first TD in its season-opening victory over Minnesota. He followed it up with six catches for 167 yards in the Packers' victory at Detroit on Sunday, including a 62-yard reception that set up a touchdown early in the second quarter.
After the Lions came back to take a 25-24 lead early in the fourth quarter, Jennings turned a short pass from Rodgers into a 60-yard gain. The Packers settled for a field goal -- the first of 24 unanswered points.
It's more proof that Packers general manager Ted Thompson knew what he was doing when he took Jennings in the second round of the 2006 draft. Jennings played at a small school, Western Michigan. And at 5 feet 11 and 198 pounds, he doesn't exactly have prototypical size.
He just knows how to get open and is tough to tackle.
Jennings' budding chemistry with Favre showed last season, but Jennings says his relationship with Rodgers is coming along more quickly because of their offseason work together.
"We know what he can do, we've been throwing and catching with him for the past few years," Jennings said. "We're definitely comfortable with him."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)