Jeff Janis was downright giddy after scoring a touchdown in his professional game debut Saturday in the Green Bay Packers' 21-7 win at the St. Louis Rams.
"I don't really know what happened after that," said Janis. "I kind of blacked out. Yeah, it was pretty exciting, though."
It's been a long road for Janis, coming from Division II college football at Saginaw Valley State all the way to the ranks of the NFL.
After suffering from a rare case of Shingles for a 23-year old at the outset of training camp, Janis has been forced to wait his turn.
Missing the first week of practice and then the team's first preseason game at Tennessee, it wasn't until Saturday that the public at large could appreciate the ample talent stored inside the body of his 6-3, 219-pound frame.
Most impressive was Janis' speed, the way he took a third quarter pass from quarterback Matt Flynn on a drag route underneath the coverage of the defense for a 34-yard catch-and-run to paydirt. He turned the corner and out-sprinted those in pursuit.
As a rookie, as a seventh round draft choice, Janis thinks he's flying under the radar right now, his swift speed perhaps not getting the respect it deserves.
"I think probably right now they're not going to realize how fast I am, so I think that's going to work out in my my favor," said Janis. "So hopefully it takes them a little while to realize that."
The coaching staff did their best to bring Janis back down to Earth after that dash to the endzone, however.
"Even on my touchdown, the first thing Coach said was 'Ball security wasn't as good as it should be,'" said Janis. "That's something you got to just keep working on."
Even so, the talent wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett and head coach Mike McCarthy have on their hands is evident.
It might be up in the air whether the Packers carry five or six wide receivers on their regular season 53-man roser, but it no longer seems to be in question whether Janis will be among them.
If released, the Packers won't get another sniff at Janis. He'd be picked up by another team in an instant, intrigued by his height-weight-speed combination.
"It was great to get Jeff out there finally," said McCarthy. "It was a great experience for him. He continues to do something every day, and that's something you look for. I thought our big-play production as a football team was very high and obviously (Jeff) did an excellent job on the touchdown throw, him and Matt (Flynn) were definitely in synch there. So we like the timing of that. We're getting better, young players getting better."
Every day that passes it's looking as if the Packers have to somehow get Janis involved, get the ball in his hands, and it's going to be difficult with wide receivers like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and even second round draft chocie Davante Adams ahead of him on the depth chart.
One way to do so looks as if it might be on special teams, where Janis got an opportunity on Saturday to see if he can handle punt returns.
Janis dropped back three times to return punts against Rams. He wasn't put in a difficult position, having to catch the football on run or with a defender in his face. But he did look comfortable back there, and maybe that's more important than anything else.
On three punts, Janis returned one for nine yards, called for a fair catch and watched another sail out of bounds.
All in all, it could be considered a successful first outing for the rookie.
"I felt pretty good," said Janis.
He looked good too.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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