Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There aren't many teams in the NFL that canovercome the loss of their No. 1 wide receiver without seemingly missing abeat.
Then again, not many teams in the league have the depth of the Green BayPackers, and even fewer teams have a quarterback the caliber of Aaron Rodgersto mask the impact of the injury.
Star Packers wideout Greg Jennings has missed four the past six games and waslimited in one other over that span due to a groin injury that will finallyforce him under the knife next week. Jennings said on Thursday he is opting forsurgery over an injection that would have relieved the pain but kept him atless than full strength.
"An injection would have masked most of the pain, but there was still noguarantee that I would be able to go out there and still hit that last gear,"Jennings said. "And that's the one thing I have to have, trying to create moreseparation than I would be able to create. There's no sense, to me, in taking ashot that may or may not work."
Such an injury would normally be a big blow to a team with high expectationslooking to dig itself out of a 2-3 start. But Green Bay has won its last twogames -- both without Jennings -- to get to 4-3 while scoring 72 points in thattime.
Rodgers is the biggest reason, but someone still has to catch the ball andGreen Bay has left its franchise quarterback with no shortage of options.Jordy Nelson, a breakout star in 2011, is leading the club in receptions andyards, sixth-year wideout James Jones already has a career high-tying seventouchdown grabs (six in the last four games) and Randall Cobb is transforminginto a solid receiver during his second season.
"They've done an outstanding job," noted Jennings of his supporting cast."There was no doubt in my mind. I don't think there was any doubt in anyone inthis locker room's mind that the team wouldn't thrive and continue to havesuccess. There's a lot of guys in here that can make a lot of plays, a lot ofimpact players.
"When your number's called, you have to make the plays, and when your number iscalled, you have to be ready to play."
The stats support these guys are ready, and having a veteran like Donald Driverin the mix is an added plus. Jones has been scooping up touchdown grabslike Bryan Cranston does with Emmys and Cobb is morphing into a duel threat whogives other teams nightmares.
A second-round pick a season ago, Cobb made a splash in his NFL debut bymatching an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return for a score against theNew Orleans Saints on Sept. 8 of last year. He also caught a touchdown pass inthat meeting, but it would be the last time he would find the end zone despiteappearing in 15 games.
However, the 22-year-old has already grabbed 37 passes with three touchdownsthis year while still averaging 27.3 yards per kickoff return. Cobb alsoreturned a punt for a score in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Kentucky product, who has 26 receptions and 339 receiving yards in hislast four games, credited a new approach this offseason to getting himready for a bigger role.
"The mind-set of feeling like I'm supposed to be here," Cobb said of one ofthe things he changed. "I felt that way when I came in (last year), but I feltthat midway through the season I felt comfortable with my position instead ofbeing hungry for more and continuing to try and have success and try and getbetter at my craft everyday. This offseason, I took a different approach andtried to get back to the old me."
Rodgers has certainly noticed and hasn't been shy of throwing some praiseCobb's way as well. Something like that could put some added weight on theshoulders of such a young player like Cobb given Green Bay's Super Bowlaspirations, but the wide receiver is taking it in stride like a veteran.
"I love pressure. I've always loved pressure. But it's a humbling thing,especially when you have a quarterback like Aaron, who is a potential Hall ofFamer one day," Cobb confessed. "That shows that he has a lot of confidence inme and he trusts me. That's very important as a receiver to know that yourquarterback has trust in you like that."
Rodgers has shown trust in all of his passing targets as Green Bay is the onlyteam in the league to have four players with at least 26 catches this season.And despite the absence of Jennings and starting running back Cedric Benson(out since suffering a foot injury on Oct. 7), the Packers lead the NFL with a76.2 touchdown-conversion percentage in the red zone. In their last four games,the Pack have scored touchdowns in 12 of their 14 chances inside the 20.
Though Rodgers admitted the team hasn't been very balanced in the red zone --leaning more toward the pass -- he said the offense has done a good job ofmaking good and quick decisions with the ball.
"We've made some big plays down there, some big-time catches," he said. "We'vebeen on the same page and it's been fun to cash in a lot of those intotouchdowns. We've got to keep doing that."
Green Bay has a pair of games left before its bye week, hosting theJacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals. With Rodgers and the likes of Cobband Jones raising their play, there will be no need for the Packers to rushback Jennings, who refused to give a timetable on his return.
This also could be a glimpse of next season because Jennings is set to become afree agent, something the 29-year-old isn't worried about just yet.
"It's a little far down the road," Jennings said of free agency. "It's kind oflike a game of chess. Everybody plays and you have to strategically know yournext move, set your next move up. I've definitely thought about it. For me,personally, this would be the best situation for me, knowing that I'm notputting myself in harm's way to make it worse or just play and know that I'mnot 100 percent. Free agency will take care of itself."
"Right now I have to take care of myself."
And so do the Packers.