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News » Jennings: Simmons 'under my wing'


Jennings: Simmons 'under my wing'


Jennings: Simmons 'under my wing'
Packers star welcomes his WMU protege


BY GRAHAM COUCH

gcouch@kalamazoogazette.com

(269) 388-7773

KALAMAZOO -- The text message arrived on Greg Jennings' cell phone at 11 p.m. Sunday, reading simply, "I'm a Packer."

"Good," Jennings texted back Jamarko Simmons' way.

There wasn't much need for dialogue.

Both understood what had taken place and why it had.

The doors to the Jennings school of receiving were opened to Simmons much earlier.

And Simmons, having gone undrafted by 32 NFL teams over the weekend, knew exactly where he belonged.

Back under Jennings' tutelage. Heck, it worked the first time.

Simmons signed a free-agent contract with the Green Bay Packers , joining the man whose receiving records he broke at Western Michigan University.

He reports to Green Bay today for rookie minicamp. Soon, he'll have Jennings by his side.

"I told him before (the draft) it'd be great for him to come be there with me -- he'll be under my wing, I'll be able to work with him," said Jennings, who's in Kalamazoo for a visit but told Simmons to call him this weekend if he needs guidance. " ... He knows I'm not in it for me. I'm not worried about him taking my spot. I'm confident in what I can do. I want him to get on the field, that's it.

"He has the ability to be a starter in this league. No matter the draft or free agency, he can make an impact."

Simmons said Sunday that he chose Green Bay over similar offers from Baltimore, Cleveland (where former WMU receivers coach George McDonald is an assistant) and others because of Jennings, who mentored the once-stubborn and immature Simmons as a redshirt freshman.

What Simmons didn't say was just how much Jennings had already shared this spring.

"Right before the draft, I had run into Jamarko a couple of times (and told him) when he does go to a team, just be yourself. It's not what everyone makes it out to be, but it can be, if you let it be," said Jennings, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, his third in the NFL. " ... I explained our system. It's a great system for him. I ran into him the next day and told him to be aggressive, because defensive backs tend to challenge rookies more than they do veterans. I explained to him that he should get the best of them before them get the best of you.

"He definitely has to use his size to his advantage. There are not a lot of guys like he's built -- 6-foot-2, solidly built, that move rather fluently. He's going to have to make sure defenders feel all 230-plus pounds he has to offer."

Jennings, who's stayed close to WMU's Football program, did everything he could to keep Simmons on the Packers' radar during the last year.

A couple times during the draft, the Packers' brass told Jennings they were considering selecting Simmons, before calling back to say they weren't going to take any receivers.

Having the franchise's rising star receiver in his corner, Jennings acknowledged, is "definitely going to help" Simmons make the team.

"I'm going to be able to help him quickly learn the ins and outs," Jennings said. " ... It's also an advantage for him because they've been looking at him so long and really like what they see out of his playing. But in the same breath, they didn't want to take a chance drafting him for whatever reason."

Simmons' nationally televised ejection in 2007 and his natural scowl -- on full display during Jennings' senior season in 2005, when pro scouts were constantly at WMU practices -- might have cost him in the draft.

But it's hard to imagine any late-round situation being as promising as where he's landed.

"More so than anything, I see how bad he wants it," Jennings said of his protege. " ... Guys tend to wait until everything's on the line to realize what it's all about. He's always had the athleticism, but now he sees what it's about.

"I'll be there to offer assistance."

JENNINGS LEERY, PROUD OF DELMAS: Jennings' gut told him Louis Delmas was going to the Detroit Lions all along.

It was a sick feeling in his stomach.

Jennings played with the Lions' second-round draft pick in 2005. He's seen the notorious hits delivered by the 5-11 safety. Now he'll see Delmas up close twice a year when the Packers play their division rivals.

"I told Louis when I saw him on (WMU's) pro day, 'Make sure when you see (No.) 85 come, don't try to take my head off,'" Jennings said. "I'm proud of him. The only thing I'm concerned about is that he doesn't try to kill a guy every time and get injured. Don't try to kill a guy every time."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 1, 2009

John Owens Name: John Owens
#83
Position: TE
Age: 28
Experience: 6 years
College: Notre Dame
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