Rookie receiver Jeff Janis has done what the Packers' other receivers have failed to do in the battle to be the fifth receiver: take advantage of his opportunities.
Janis was targeted only once on Saturday at St. Louis, but he turned Matt Flynn’s 2-yard pass into a 34-yard touchdown. It was a key play in Green Bay’s 21-7 victory over the Rams.
Janis’ calling card coming out of Saginaw Valley State was his remarkable athleticism. Of the 33 receivers who were drafted in May, Janis ran the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash (4.42 seconds) and the second-fastest three-cone drill (6.64 seconds). He showed that “top-flight speed,” as Flynn called it, with his touchdown, when he caught the ball at the 32, blew away linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong and then outran safety Christian Bryant, who was in pursuit.
“Made sure I looked it in, that's for sure," said Janis, who had a bad drop that doomed a two-minute drill early in the week. “This was one of the plays that we ran at Saginaw that I liked to run; it was one of my favorite routes. Good thing they gave us that defense, it worked out."
It was typical Janis. After missing the first week-and-a-half of training camp due to shingles, Janis has made one noteworthy play every day, starting with his one-handed touchdown catch against Sam Shields in his first practice and continuing with a sliding catch while heading out of bounds on Wednesday.
“Continues to improve on a daily basis," Bennett said this week. “When you’re doing that, he’s moving in the right direction. We need to continue to build on that. We need to continue to be fundamentally sound, make the most out of every opportunity. Some of the things you do like is his work ethic, he has a great attitude. He’ll go out and pretty much give you everything he has on the practice field. We need to continue to build on what he’s done the last few practices." Of the other receivers battling for a roster spot, Kevin Dorsey caught one pass (one target) for 18 yards but dropped a well-placed deep ball from Scott Tolzien, though a defensive penalty gave Green Bay a first down, anyway. Myles White caught one pass (three targets) for 2 yards and had a touchdown taken off the board because of a penalty on center Corey Linsley. Chris Harper caught one pass (one target) for 1 yard but would have had a much bigger gain had he used Dorsey’s block rather than turning the wrong way and running into the defender. Alex Gillett caught one pass (two targets) for 13 yards. Gerrard Sheppard dropped an excellent deep ball near the goal line from Flynn and got whacked by the defensive back, anyway.
Special teams might ultimately decide which receiver (or receivers) join Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and Davante Adams on the final depth chart. Janis returned one punt for 9 yards and caught all three opportunities cleanly.
With Janis' strong showing this week and on Saturday, and the continued ups and downs of those challenging for a roster spot, he’s put himself in good position for the final two weeks of camp.
“Yeah, I think so, but there's a lot more to be proven," Janis said. “It was thrown my way only once and I made one play, so there's a lot more to be done."
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com, and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.