Jon Jennings looked at his questioner right in the eye and spoke confidently, the complete anthesis from where he was a year ago. A lot, he admitted, has changed.
A year ago he was one of the last quarterbacks to be signed by the B.C. Lions and didn’t have to be told how many pivots he stood beside in a figurative sense. Nine. Almost enough to form an entire offensive unit, and certainly more than enough to where he could blissfully blend in among the crowd.
A year later instead of wondering whether he will make it past rookie camp, he is being flown into town for off-season study sessions with his friend, mentor and former first-string quarterback, Travis Lulay.
Neither quarterback appears uncomfortable with their changed roles as they are asked to talk to media mongrels who weren’t interested in the latest court dealings concerning Arland Bruce, and that’s no change from the way they behaved last year when their job descriptions were reversed either.
Nine quarterbacks, and bonus points are awarded if you can rattle off Lulay, Greg McGhee, John Beck, Kevin Glenn, Steven Jyles, Jordan Rodgers, Travis Partridge and Grant Hedrick. Now Jennings (above) is at the top of the depth chart above them all.
“I was sitting at the dinner table and talking about that not that long ago, (going from) just hoping to make the team to the point where I’m playing now,” admitted Jennings, who hadn’t even worked out for the Detroit Lions at their mini-camp at this time last year, much less proposed a marriage set to take place this year. “It’s crazy. It’s a blessing. But I’ve worked my tail off.”
Jennings and Lulay began a series of meetings with offensive coordinator Khari Jones this week, and the fact the two will have input into the structure of a game plan no longer focused on Andrew Harris represents a change by itself, never mind the classroom dynamics that no longer exist under deposed assistant coach George Cortez.
Jennings says it’s a little uncomfortable being described as a starter when he hasn’t even attended his first training camp in such a position. It’s why he was elated when the Lions signed Lulay for two additional seasons this winter because of the backstop the backup provides.
“I have to keep sharp because if I’m not, Travis is very capable of playing,” Jennings said. “But I’m confident in myself and my preparation.”
What will change perceptions is a contract extension for Jennings, and it’s quite likely that process will begin next week once Wally Buono returns from vacation and an extension for the Lions coach/GM, finalized some time ago, is announced.
Truth be told though, both sides might be better off by waiting another year. Jennings is already signed through 2017 and might score a bigger deal by posting starting money passing numbers for an entire season. The Lions would benefit from a year of quarterbacking at reasonable numbers like the Seattle Seahawks first did upon anointing Russell Wilson before his megabucks deal.
You don’t get the sense Jennings is overly concerned either way though.
“Not too worried,” he said. “I’m just blessed to be able to play the game whether it’s a minimum contract or a new contract,” he said. He’s talking football in February, and being asked to have off-season playbook input. A lot really has changed.