For Green Bay Packers receiver Jeff Janis, the question throughout the offseason and the start of training camp was whether he could use his monster playoff game at Arizona as a springboard into 2016.
Janis’ hopes of carving out a role on the offense went down the drain before the team’s first preseason game. Janis sustained a broken hand during a ball-security drill two days before the Aug. 12 game against Cleveland. Janis returned to practice late in training camp with a club-cast, which he wore to start the regular season. Other than the three take-a-knee snaps to end last Sunday’s game against Detroit, Janis was relegated to special-teams duty in the first three games.
As the Packers returned to work on Monday following last week’s bye, Janis had shed the cast.
“It’s back to normal,” Janis said, so long as “normal” means going through the rest of his life with two screws in his hand. “I don’t have to wear anything on it. I’m back to practicing like normal, playing like normal.”
During the brief periods of practice that reporters were allowed to watch to start the season, Janis caught the ball surprisingly well with the cast. Not well enough to play meaningful snaps on offense or return kickoffs, of course, but it was impressive work, nonetheless.
“I just had to try and do it,” he said. “If it was around the body, you just try to body it, but sometimes you couldn’t and you had to try to pin it against your hand. That’s the best I got for you. Try to catch it with one hand, I guess.”
Because he was so limited on offense, Janis said his focus was on route-running. If that part of his game is on point, he hopes opportunities on offense will follow.
And maybe they will, because Janis returns to an offense that’s in flux. Tight end Jared Cook, the team’s lone veteran addition in the offseason, is sidelined with a high-ankle sprain. Cook’s ability to play tight end and receiver reduced the Packers’ reliance on three-receiver sets. Without Cook, the Packers could reverse course. And that could mean a role for Janis on offense.
When the Packers host the Giants on Sunday night, it will be one week shy of nine months since Janis caught seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Cardinals.
“Hopefully (the coaches) have that in the back of their head and will get me in the rotation a little bit,” Janis said. “Just in practice today with Aaron (Rodgers) throwing some balls to me and stuff and just getting that chemistry back a little bit and showing him that I’m not shying away from using my hands, I think that’s important, too.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.