If there is one thing the Green Bay Packers lacked when it came to Jeff Janis last season, it was trust, at least at wide receiver. But trust, especially that of Aaron Rodgers, is something Janis is working hard to earn during OTAs.
Janis was a raw prospect coming out of college and for some reason, it look him a long time to earn the faith of Mike McCarthy on the offensive side of the ball.
Of course, Janis earned his place on special teams right away and now, he might be one of the top young kick cover guys in the NFL. That’s why his job going into training camp and the 2016 season is secure.
Yet, Janis wants to be more than a kicking-game stud, he wants to make an impact playing receiver and the best way to do that is simply by earning the trust of Aaron Rodgers.
“I think the biggest thing with Aaron is he wants us to be mentally on the same page,” Janis said recently to ESPN during OTAs. “He knows physical mistakes are going to happen, like dropped balls and things like that, but mental errors are unacceptable to him. So I think that’s where I’m really trying to take a step.”
Here’s a highlight reel of Janis from last season:
Every Packers fan remembers the way Janis played in the playoffs against Arizona, catching seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including two Hail-Mary passes on the final drive. But during the regular season, he caught just two passes for 79 yards, which shows why this offseason is so critical for his future.
Many players take their biggest leap in their third season and if Janis can take that leap this season, he can go a long way towards solidifying himself long-term in Green Bay. So while some may see OTAs as an afterthought, for Janis, it’s an opportunity to improve and it’s one he’s taking advantage of according to McCarthy.
“He’s done a lot of good things going up the field, catching the ball better, obviously being in sync with Aaron has been a big help,” McCarthy told ESPN. “He had one out cut today that the timing of it was good, we completed it, but he can get better there fundamentally. I think Jeff’s really improving, and he’s gotten a lot of quality reps with Aaron.”
The development of young talent is often the key to winning championships and if Janis can take the next step in 2016, it could do a lot for the Green Bay offense and the team’s hopes of making a deep playoff run next January.