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Rookie Jeff Janis Excels With Heavy Heart In Packers Debut

Jeff Janis' strong performance against the Rams has him in the lead for the No.5 wide receiver position for the Packers.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Janis might have technically been in uniform for last week's preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, but he saw his first actual game action as an NFL pro against the St. Louis Rams.

The rookie Division-II standout from Saginaw Valley State was the second player to field punts in the game after starter Micah Hyde was pulled. Throughout his entire football career, the Michigan native has typically never worked as a punt returner.

"Just before the game was when coach said he's going to try me back there," Janis said afterwards in the locker room via "I did it a couple of times in college and that's pretty much about it, but I've been practicing and taking some reps in practice so I was ready."

In Saturday's game Janis finished with just one lone catch, but his 34-yard touchdown grab on a crossing route from Matt Flynn was the highlight of the night. You can view the play below and watch his 4.42 speed blow by St. Louis' secondary like it's nothing.


"I think probably right now they're not going to realize how fast I am so I think that's going to work in my favor." Janis joked. "So hopefully it's a little while for them to realize that."

After a disastrous performance as a team against the Titans (five fumbles due to poor ball protection and poor weather conditions), the coaching staff was sure to emphasize how important holding on to the ball is for Janis at the next level and the team as a whole.

"That's something we preach a lot in the receiver room and even on my touchdown, first thing coach said was (the) ball security wasn't as good as it should be. That's something you just got to keep working on. "

With Saturday being his first NFL game action, Janis played well with a heavy heart. Four years ago this past Friday, he lost his father to cancer and posted this touching Instagram post in his remembrance.

With his NFL Combine friend Jared Abbrederis lost for the entire season, Janis is making a very strong case for the No.5 spot in the Packers' receiving core rotation behind locks Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, and fellow rookie Davante Adams.

Green Bay could still possibly carry 6 receivers when the season begins, but another player at the position will have to consistently stand out like Janis during the remaining weeks of camp and preseason.