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Packers WR Jeff Janis Looking to Make His Mark

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Packers WR Jeff Janis Looking to Make His Mark

During every Green Bay Packers training camp there seems to be a “camp-darling”, a dark horse who emerges out of nowhere to tantalize and excite the fan base.  Last year that player was wide out Jeff Janis.

And why not? 

It is not often that you encounter a man as physically impressive as Janis.  Standing 6’ 3” and a solid 218 lbs. he notched an impressive 4.42 second forty-yard dash and a 37 ½" vertical jump. 

Janis was selected in the seventh round selection (236th overall pick) and not much was expected of him.  However during the 2014 pre-season Janis looked like he belonged. 

After playing at tiny Saginaw Valley State (Michigan) a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, he was an All-Conference selection and a Division II All American.  He finished his collegiate career as the conference’s second all-time leading receiver and earned an invitation to participate in the Senior Bowl.

With superior athletic ability he was able to stand out on occasion but just could not overcome his raw technique and lack of big game experience to earn meaningful playing time.  Still the Packers thought enough of him to remain on the active roster the entire 2014 season fearing that should they try to sneak him on to the practice squad he might well be claimed by a rival club.

Janis flashed in training camp and in the pre-season.  He was side-lined for two weeks early in training camp with a painful case of the shingles only to make a rapid two-week recovery to claim the No. 5 berth on the depth chart.  He demonstrated his blazing speed during exhibition season on 2 receptions of 33 and 34 yards, the later for a TD vs. the St. Louis Rams.  Of his 67 total receiving yards he impressed with 37 of those yards after the catch.    

Yet his 2014 season’s production was statistically modest. Appearing in only three games (30 total snaps) he caught two passes for 16 yards, an 8 yard per catch average.

With an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver Janis looks to be either the fourth, fifth or possibly sixth receiver (should they keep six) on the depth chart entering training camp.  Making the roster will be his first goal yet there is room for Janis to make his mark on a team looking for substantial improvement in their Special Teams game and an offense that relishes the use of four and five receiver sets.

At an end of season interview on ESPNWisconsin.com Head Coach Mike McCarthy went out of his way to heap praise on Janis.  “I think Jeff is going to take a big step (in 2015)”, McCarthy said.  “He’s got a big catching radius, and he needs to utilize it. Obviously, I think we all saw his vertical speed. He’s an extremely physical young man. He’s an Olympian in the weight room. He’s got a lot of raw skill, and I look for him to make that jump.”

High praise indeed from the Packers head-man.

McCarthy went on to add that a lack of a special teams role and an aversion to throwing a rookie into the fire late in the season without much prior experience were reasons Janis didn’t play more.  He added that he thought he deserved playing time with the improvements that he made late in the year.

As late as early June 2015 McCarthy was still singing his praises after earning first team reps with Jordy Nelson being held out after off-season surgery.   Jeff Janis has definitely been moving forward. I thought he definitely came on last year. Still some things fundamentally he needs to work on but any time you get reps with the 1's and Aaron Rodgers, it definitely boosts your confidence”.

The 2014 Packers averaged a disappointing 19.1 yards per kick return, 31st in the league.   After jettisoning under-performing incumbent DeJuan Harris, the Packers have some exciting options this year in rookies Ty Montgomery, free agent running back John Crockett (should he make the team) and second year players Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis.  Montgomery averaged 27.4 yards per kick return at Stanford and logic would indicate that the kick return job is his to lose. 

Yet the Packers coaches surely remember that impressive 64 yard kickoff return (his lone return) vs. the Kansas City Chiefs from last pre-season.  It has to whet their appetite to see what he can do with a full training camp under his belt.

One thing is certain.  The Packers moribund return game will have a new return man this year.  Whoever claims the job must have a much greater impact than 2014. 

After all the Green Bay Packers will settle for nothing less than a Super Bowl 50 victory.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

I am really looking forward to seeing Janis, as well as all the other 2nd year players and seeing what kind of year 2 jump they make.

What will take this team over the top is the 2nd year players. They essentially had 4 rookie starters last year and if they can make a leap it will really boost the team.

One of the positions I am most excited to see is the WR position. They are very deep and have a lot of talent there. Right now I am having a hard time seeing them not keeping 6 WR's on the 53. Nelson, Cobb, Adams, Montgomery are locks, and I have a hard time seeing them letting Abbrederis and Janis go.

Also with theses WR's they should help a lot on special teams. Montgomery, Abbrederis and Janis should all factor in on the return game.

Nick Perry's picture

This team is so talented this season I believe it will be the toughest cut down to 53 MM and TT have had to make. I agree with the Packers keeping 6 WR but do you really want to go into a season with just Starks and Lacy, especially if they keep Kuhn and "The Ripper". I believe the best way to do this without cutting it thin at another position is using Montgomery in a Hybrid WR/RB role which we've all discussed already. If Abby has lost a step because of the knee then the choice is a little easier as much as I hate to say it.

Evan's picture

If it were up to me - and this is all subject to change during training camp - I'd keep cut Kuhn to keep Rip/Janis/Abby/3rd RB (whoever, really).

My thinking is no one is going to pick up Kuhn, so he'll be available if needed down the line.

I wouldn't cut a young kid with promise, whether it's Abby or Rip or whoever, for an aging fullback. But I know Rodgers and McCarthy love him, so...

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, my thinking right now is they will likely keep 3 QB's. 5 RB's, 3 TE's, 6 WR's, 8 OL. Which would be 25 on offense. Which is about what they normally keep. So they could easily keep 6 WR's.

I agree with your points about Kuhn. I just don't think they will cut him because of how well he knows the offense. The only way I think they would cut him is if he clearly declines and/or if Ripkowski proves to be head and shoulders above Kuhn. Since this will be Kuhns last year of his contract i expect him to stay.

I completely agree with your take about not cutting a young kid with promise over an aging FB.

aaronqb's picture

Kuhn just signed a 1-year contract with a very modest $25K workout bonus. It's the last year of his contract because it's only a 1-year.

IMO, if Ripkowski is close to Kuhn in training camp, they should cut Kuhn. Ripkowski shouldn't have to be heads and shoulders above him. Use the roster spot for a young, ascending player - not for a declining player.

RCPackerFan's picture

I have no problem if they cut Kuhn. If Ripkowski proves he is ready, then they should cut Kuhn. I just don't think they will.

While he isn't an ascending player he really isn't declining either. He had his best year last as a lead blocking FB.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I'd say cut it thin at TE. This team just needs a serviceable TE. Nothing fancy. While I agree w/Montgomery taking snaps in the backfield I don't know about an extended role if RB 1 or RB 2 goes down for a couple of games.

Scenario (w/out Lacy)

James Starks has shown us that he's at his best when he's not the clear #1 guy. I prefer to have another RB that could split (or at the very least challenge) carries with him. I don't think Montgomery will offer that so soon. We have to consider pass-pro as well. Another attribute Starks isn't so strong at.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah right now I really only see them keeping 3 TE's. (Rodgers, Quarless, Backman). Unless someone else emerges. And now pending on what happens with Quarless possibly someone else takes his place for a game or 2.

RCPackerFan's picture

I completely agree with you that this will be one of the toughest cutdowns have had to make.

I don't think they would have to go with just Lacy and Starks. They will definitely keep a 3rd RB, just with the pounding that those guys take you have to have someone else. But I do think that Montgomery could factor into the RB position, as a possible change of pace type of RB.

I agree about Abbrederis, in that if he has lost a step he could be the one to go if they cut one. Janis physically is great but if he can't make a turn mentally he may not make it either. So the job could come down to 1 of the 2 or perhaps they both make it. Right now I think they both will make it.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

I thought they were deep last year, this year I tell you is it time yet.

Evan's picture

I'd also add that while he was a 7th round pick, he was a 7th round pick in one of the deepest WR drafts in history. So, in a normal year maybe he's a 5th round pick? It changes the perception a bit.

RCPackerFan's picture

Exactly right. I was going to add that as well. I remember Mel Kiper saying that if it was a normal year for the draft Janis could have went in the 4th round. Abbrederis likely would have been a round or 2 higher in a normal draft as well. They definitely got a couple of steals with those picks.

DrealynWilliams's picture

With that being said -- I think those 2 are safe bets to make the final roster. We don't give up on players after just 1 (rookie) season. Injured or not.

RCPackerFan's picture

completely agree.

MarkinMadison's picture

Yeah but.... they all have to make it through training camp healthy in order to create a cut-down problem. Personally, I always felt that Abby would not make it through an NFL season. Remember, this is a small guy who was always playing nicked up in the Big 10. So far, he hasn't made it through a pre-season.

DrealynWilliams's picture

True , that he is smallish and not too strong, but he was still drafted in the 5th by a team that doesn't give up on their own players so soon. I think it will take a horrible camp for Abby not to make the final roster.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

GB normally keeps 24 on offense. I see 3 QBs, 8 OL, and 3 half backs as definite. Probably 6 WRs (if Abby has made a full recovery and has gotten stronger). Issues are 1/2 FBs, 2/3 TEs.

As to FB, I agree with those above that I'd hate to keep an aging FB one more year at the expense of Abby or Janis, but I might be okay with it at the expense of Perillo and/or Backman.

At TE, there's Rodgers & Q when he gets back. Perillo and Backman can go on PS, unless their preseason play suggests otherwise. Backman should have been an UDFA. No one took Perillo while he was on the PS. Subject to change based on performances.

MagnumGB's picture

There's no way that we keep only 2 TEs on the active roster. MM loves TEs, especially for special teams, which we are trying to rejuvenate. Add in Quarless' little mishap which leaves the possibility that he misses a game or two, and you'd be down to 1 TE.

Backman will make it given that TT used a draft pick on him and he's flashed some tenacity that was sorely missed on ST. I wouldn't be surprised if we somehow kept 4, but at least 3.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Magnum, have to acknowledge that your comment is conventional wisdom regarding TEs. Conventional Wisdom is not a pejorative: CW becomes the norm because it very often is correct. That said, yes, the 3rd TE we kept on the active roster last year was (wait for it) Bostick, and that despite the fact that he could not play on offense (32 snaps), and was there primarily for STs (207 snaps). How did that work out for ya?

GB had Perillo active for 7 or 8 games last year. He was able to find a place on STs for just 16 snaps. Must have been on the punt coverage team? Perilo played all of 11 snaps on offense. I see no point in blowing a spot on a 3rd TE who does little to nothing. I agree with you that MM likes TEs, but there is no point in putting a player who is not good enough to get on the field just to fill the CW quota. I have a low opinion of Backman. Don't know much about his tenacity, but I don't think much of his ability to contribute this season. Perfectly safe to stash him (and Perillo) on PS. If Q or Rodgers gets nicked up, then promote from the PS.

I am really talking long term here rather than the opening day 53-man roster. If Q is suspended, we will have to keep Backman or Perillo on the roster until Q gets back since we couldn't risk having no available TE should Rodgers get nicked up. But GB will get an exemption for Q: we don't have to put Q on the opening day 53 man roster to keep him for the rest of the season.

ray nichkee's picture

I like what drealyn williams posted. With the multiple uses each player can have and is used to disguise play formation, position is less important these days and the more roles a player can do the better he is as a weapon. Its up to the coaches (which i trust) to put them in the right place to make some plays. I cannot compare my excitement to other seasons but it cant come soon enough.

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