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Jeff Janis practices with Packers for first time since breaking hand

The fan-favorite wideout and special-teams ace returned to practice Monday, making the Packers' roster cuts even more difficult.

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

After Jeff Janis broke his hand earlier in training camp, it seemed a fait accompli that the Green Bay Packers would have to decide between placing the third-year wide receiver on injured reserve, burning a roster spot on a player unable to contribute, or releasing him outright. Apparently, the team believes that Janis -- or at least a one-handed version of him -- can participate right now. On Monday, the wideout practiced with a club on his broken hand, his first practice session since suffering the injury.

It seems unlikely that the Packers would use Janis on offense until his hand has healed. However, he can still function adequately as a gunner on the special-teams coverage units, a role in which he excelled in 2015. Janis' coverage prowess helped Tim Masthay set the franchise record for net punting average last season.

Perhaps just as importantly, Janis' return effectively removes the possibility of Green Bay placing him on injured reserve. Unless he suffers another injury, the team must either give him a roster spot or release him before the Sept. 4 deadline.

And that further complicates the Packers' logjam at wide receiver. Without Janis in the picture, the team still had to sever ties with at least one of their reserves at the position, a group that includes Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jared Abbrederis, Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison. Now that Janis has returned to practice, general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy likely must move on from another young, talented wideout.

Jason B. Hirschhorn is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and covers the NFL for Sports on Earth and SB Nation. He also serves as the senior writer and editor for Acme Packing Company, a Green Bay Packers blog.