NFL Nation: Jeff Janis

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Observed and heard at the NFL combine on Friday:

Don’t blame Slocum: If you want to blame former Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum for the botched onside kick recovery in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks, you should know this: According to a person familiar with Slocum’s instructions on the sideline, one of the last things he told his hands team before the play was this: "If your name isn't Jordy Nelson or Micah Hyde, don't try to field the ball." Of course, we all know that Brandon Bostick, who was released earlier this week, tried to catch it and failed, allowing the Seahawks to recover. Two weeks later Slocum, whose special teams units were problematic all season and allowed the Seahawks to run a fake field goal for a touchdown, was fired.

Zimmer on Bostick: After the Minnesota Vikings claimed Bostick off waivers, coach Mike Zimmer told reporters who cover his team that Bostick will add depth and competition at the tight end position. And then Zimmer joked, "We'll try not to put him on the onside kick team."

Meet the linebackers: A day after coach Mike McCarthy more or less said inside linebacker is the Packers' greatest need this offseason, two of the top inside linebackers in the draft -- Missississppi State's Benardrick McKinney and Miami's Denzel Perryman -- both confirmed they have formal interviews scheduled with the Packers during the combine. The Packers began their overhaul at the position by releasing veteran Brad Jones on Friday.

Big things for Janis: For those fans who wondered why receiver Jeff Janis couldn't get on the field much last year as a rookie, know this: McCarthy still has high hopes for the former seventh-round pick who spent most of last season on the inactive list. Janis was active for only three games and played just 15 snaps on offense. He caught two passes for 16 yards. "I thought probably after Thanksgiving, I thought Jeff really picked it up," McCarthy said. "He was more comfortable, and so I look for him to take a step. He's got to play with extension. That's the one thing he has to do a better job of, but you can see it on the scout team, and at the end of the year he was running some really good routes. Really good routes."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- As we head toward the NFL scouting combine, which begins later this week in Indianapolis, it's time to look at the Green Bay Packers' needs by position this offseason and which prospects general manager Ted Thompson might be taking a closer look at during workouts and interviews.

Here are the previous installments:

Feb 9: Defensive line

Feb 10: Linebackers

Feb. 11: Cornerbacks

Feb. 12: Safeties

Feb 13: Quarterbacks

Monday: Running backs

Next up, Receivers/tight ends:

Why the Packers might need help: Even if the Packers re-sign Randall Cobb, who is seeking a deal that averages at least $9 million per season, the Packers will still have depth issues to address at this position. Behind Cobb and Jordy Nelson, the next-best receiver is Davante Adams, the former second-round pick who had an up-and-down rookie season as the No. 3 receiver. It's possible the Packers won't even offer last year's No. 4 receiver, Jarrett Boykin, a restricted-free-agent tender. Two other draft picks from last season, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis, are still unknowns. Abbrederis spent all of last season on injured reserve after a training-camp knee injury, while Janis spent the entire season on the roster but rarely played. He was inactive for all but three games.

At tight end, the Packers like what last year's third-round pick, Richard Rodgers, showed late in the season, when he became more involved in the offense, but it's still too early to say whether he'll be the playmaker that Jermichael Finley was before his neck injury. Behind Rodgers and Andrew Quarless, the Packers are thin. Once a promising prospect, Brandon Bostick was released on Monday, a month after he botched the onside kick recovery in the NFC Championship Game. They also have undrafted rookie Justin Perillo who was promoted from the practice squad.

WRs/TEs the Packers should be watching: As many as a half-dozen receivers could come off the board in the first round. Thompson, however, loves to take receivers in the second round (Adams, Cobb, Nelson, Greg Jennings all were second-round picks) or third round (James Jones). So he could be keeping an eye on Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham, Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, Auburn's Sammie Coates, Ohio State's Devin Smith and Duke's Jamison Crowder.

At tight end, it's possible the best one in the class, Minnesota’s Maxx Williams, will be available when the Packers pick at No. 30.

Draft priority (low, medium or high): Medium. Their need for another pass-catcher (whether at receiver or tight end) would jump to high if they were unable to re-sign Cobb.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For the first time all season, the Green Bay Packers will have all three quarterbacks active.

The reason?

Aaron Rodgers' calf injury.

According to a source, the Packers are going into Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions with "a little" concern about the injury their starting quarterback sustained in last week's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On Friday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said during his final media availability of the week: "I don't have any concerns today, just based off of the conversation with Aaron and how he's feeling."

However, the Packers still had one more practice Saturday morning to complete their preparations for the NFC North title game against the Lions. Rodgers was listed as probable on Friday's injury report and was a limited participant in practice all week.

Rodgers also took the unusual step of warming up on the field about two hours before the game Sunday. Rodgers does not typically come out that early, but he played catch with backup Matt Flynn.


This is the first time No. 3 quarterback Scott Tolzien has been active for a game this season. He took the place of backup running back DuJuan Harris, who has been the primary kickoff returner this season. However, McCarthy said this week that he's looking for a spark in the return game, which could mean he will use starting receiver Randall Cobb in that role.

Here's the Packers’ inactive list for Sunday:

Packers' starting O-line intact vs. Bucs

December, 21, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- For the 14th time in 15 games this season, the Green Bay Packers will have their preferred starting offensive line intact to begin a game.

That was assured when right tackle Bryan Bulaga was cleared to return from the concussion he sustained last Sunday at the Buffalo Bills. Bulaga, who was upgraded from questionable to probable on Saturday, will start Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bulaga is the only starter on the offensive line to miss a game this season. The Packers played without him in Week 2 against the New York Jets because of the knee injury he sustained in the season opener. Since he returned in Week 3 against the Detroit Lions, the Packers have started the same five offensive linemen in every game.

"This is the best offensive line we've had in my time here," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said this week. "We felt that coming out in the spring. All the good teams, all the good offensive, defensive, special-team units and particular positions are the ones that practice together and play together each and every week are always the best ones. This is a very cohesive offensive line, both on and off the field. They get along. It's a smart bunch. They help each other."

There was only one injured player, cornerback Davon House (shoulder), among the Packers' inactives. Here's the full list:
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The issue wasn't necessarily whether Eddie Lacy would be active -- that seemed like a safe bet after what coach Mike McCarthy said Friday -- but rather how effective the banged-up Green Bay Packers running back can be Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

Lacy was indeed declared active. The Packers announced no starting lineup changes, which means they're planning to go with Lacy from the start after he was limited all week in practice because of the hip injury he sustained in the fourth quarter of Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Lacy could not finish that game.

Still, it might not be reasonable to expect Lacy to play the workhorse role against the Bills. And he might not need to after the performance James Starks put together against the Falcons. Starks matched his career-long run of 41 yards and finished with a season-high 75 yards on 10 carries.

"We'll see how the game goes, but I feel very comfortable going with Eddie and James," McCarthy said Friday.

Safety Chris Banjo, who was promoted from the practice squad Saturday after linebacker Jamari Lattimore was placed on injured reserve because of an ankle injury, also is active Sunday. Banjo played in all 16 games last season, mostly on special teams.

The only injured Packers player on the inactive list was cornerback Davon House (shoulder). The rest were healthy scratches.

Here's the full inactive list for the Packers:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers' secondary will be at full strength for "Monday Night Football."

Shields
Cornerback Sam Shields passed the concussion protocol and will play against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.

Shields, who sustained a concussion early in last Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, did not practice all week but on Saturday coach Mike McCarthy seemed optimistic that Shields had a chance to be cleared.

The Packers made a roster move on Monday, when they placed defensive tackle Luther Robinson on injured reserve and signed defensive tackle Bruce Gaston. However, Gaston, a rookie from Purdue who was signed off the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad, was declared inactive.

Here's the full inactive list for the Packers:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers' defense will be back at full strength for Sunday's showdown with the New England Patriots.

And they'll also have their top special teams player.

Bush
Perry
Outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) and core special teamer Jarrett Bush (groin) are both active after missing last Sunday's game at the Minnesota Vikings.

Perry moved into the starting right outside linebacker position when Clay Matthews moved to the inside spot following the Packers' bye in Week 9. Mike Neal started at outside linebacker against the Vikings, but Perry is expected to return to that role.

Both Perry and Bush were listed as questionable on Friday's injury report.

Receiver Davante Adams, who was added to the injury report on Thursday after he got his heel stepped on in practice, also is active.

All seven of the Packers' inactives were healthy scratches.

Here's the full list:
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Green Bay Packers still plan to use Clay Matthews at inside linebacker as extensively as they have the previous two games, they will need to find another option at his old outside linebacker spot.

Nick Perry, who started the last two weeks at right outside linebacker, was declared inactive for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Perry was listed as questionable because of a shoulder injury.

Mike Neal would be the logical choice to assume those outside linebacker snaps, but rookie Jayrone Elliott also sees some action there.

Matthews has played the majority of his snaps the last two weeks at inside linebacker, especially on early downs, but it's possible he could go back to playing more at outside linebacker.

On Friday, coach Mike McCarthy said they would have to adjust their plan if Perry could not play.

The Packers also will be without one of their key special-teams players, cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin). In his place, rookie cornerback Demetri Goodson was activated for just the second time this season.

Here's the full inactive list:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers will have their entire starting offensive line and their starting secondary intact for Sunday night's game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

Guards T.J. Lang (ankle) and Josh Sitton (toe) along with safety Morgan Burnett (calf) -- all of whom were listed as questionable on the injury report -- will start.

Burnett was downgraded from probable after Saturday's short practice. He has not played since the Oct. 19 game against the Carolina Panthers.

Both Lang and Sitton were injured in the Oct. 26 loss at the New Orleans Saints. Lang left the game after the first series because of a sprained left ankle and did not return. Sitton's injury -- a torn ligament in his left big toe -- was discovered after the game.

The Packers prepared most of the week for the possibility that Lane Taylor and JC Tretter would start at guard. Then on Saturday, the Packers signed another offensive lineman, veteran Jamon Meredith. But with Sitton and Lang active, Meredith was not needed.

One surprise on the inactive list was linebacker Jamari Lattimore, who was not listed on the injury report all week. Lattimore was the dime linebacker against the Saints but apparently has been benched.

Here's the full inactive list:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers won't have to play without both of their starting cornerbacks Sunday against the Carolina Panthers because Tramon Williams was declared active.

That was in question all week after Williams sprained his ankle last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. And when fellow starting cornerback Sam Shields (knee) was declared out on Friday, the Packers faced the possibility of starting a pair of backup cornerbacks against Cam Newton and Co.

On Friday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy listed Williams as questionable but said he would give his veteran cornerback every chance to play.

Williams, who has missed only one game in his eight-year NFL career, took part in Saturday's practice -- his first on-field work of the week -- on a limited basis and did not experience any setbacks.

Linebacker Jamari Lattimore (neck), who also was listed as questionable, will play and is expected to start.

Davon House will start at Shields' right cornerback spot, and Casey Hayward is expected to be the third cornerback in the nickel package.

Receiver Jarrett Boykin is active after missing the last three games because of a groin injury.

Here's the Packers' full inactives list:
CHICAGO -- The Green Bay Packers have not gotten much production from their No. 3 receiver so far this season, so perhaps it isn't a huge issue that Jarrett Boykin won't play Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

He was declared inactive after sustaining a groin injury in practice last week. He had already been listed on the injury with a knee injury.

Boykin has only two catches for 17 yards this season while splitting time with rookie Davante Adams (seven catches for 61 yards). The Packers have used their three-receiver set more than any other personnel group this season.

But Boykin being declared inactive has opened the door for another rookie receiver, Jeff Janis, to get his first shot. The seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State was declared active for the first time Sunday.

There were no other surprises on the Packers' inactive list, which featured just six players because they remain one short on their 53-man roster.

Here's the full list of Packers inactives:

Bryan Bulaga returns for Packers

September, 21, 2014
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DETROIT -- With the Detroit Lions' secondary in tatters, the Green Bay Packers should be able to move the ball through the air if they can protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Bulaga
Having right tackle Bryan Bulaga should help that.

Bulaga was declared active for Sunday's game at Ford Field after missing last week's game against the New York Jets because of the knee injury he sustained in Week 1 at the Seattle Seahawks. In Bulaga's absence, Derek Sherrod allowed three sacks in six quarters of action.

On Friday, Bulaga appeared to be on track to play despite being listed as questionable for the second straight week.

The Lions are not only without safety James Ihedigbo but also may have to use Danny Gorrer, who was signed by the Lions this week, as their third cornerback behind starters Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay. They also promoted cornerback Mohammed Seisay from the practice squad Saturday.

Packers cornerback Casey Hayward, who also was listed as questionable because of a glute strain, will be available for the game. However, that does not necessarily mean he will have a role on defense. Last week against the Jets, the Packers went with Davon House as their No. 3 cornerback in the nickel package over Hayward.

For the second straight week, Jamari Lattimore will start at inside linebacker for the injured Brad Jones (quadriceps).

With only 52 players on the roster after they placed outside linebacker Andy Mulumba (torn ACL) on injured reserve Friday, the Packers had only six inactives for Sunday's game. Mulumba's injury opened the door for rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott to be active for the first time.

Here are the Packers' inactives:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It often takes an injury or an unusually poor preseason showing for a Green Bay Packers draft pick to get cut at the end of his rookie training camp.

Take last year's class as an example. Of the 11 players picked, eight made the opening-day roster.

The three who did not – fourth-round pick JC Tretter plus seventh-rounders Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey – all had injury issues. Tretter missed all of camp because of a broken ankle that forced him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, while Johnson and Dorsey battled injuries throughout the offseason. Johnson played in only two preseason games, while Dorsey played in only one. Johnson landed on the practice squad before the Cleveland Browns signed him, and Dorsey spent the season on injured reserve.

With that in mind, here's a look at where things stand for each member of general manager Ted Thompson's 2014 draft class heading into Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, plus the undrafted rookies who could be on the verge of winning a roster spot:

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S (first round): After a slow start to training camp, Clinton-Dix has found himself around the ball more often of late. He has three interceptions during practices this summer, which ties safety Sean Richardson for the camp lead. However, it looks like he won't unseat second-year pro Micah Hyde for a starting job. That means Clinton-Dix likely will play only in the dime (six defensive back) package to start the season.

Davante Adams, WR (second round): Early in camp, Adams was pushing Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 receiver spot but inconsistent play derailed that. Meanwhile, Boykin has overcome a slow start to secure that spot. If Adams can refine his route running and shore up his hands, he could still make a push for more playing time as the year goes on.

[+] EnlargeRichard Rodgers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsRookie Richard Rodgers is in line to be the Packers' starting tight end.
Khyri Thornton, DE (third round): Much like fifth-round defensive end Josh Boyd last season as a rookie, it's been a big adjustment for Thornton. Thompson has never cut a third-round pick coming out of his first training camp, but Thornton might have trouble getting on the field early in the season. Playing mostly against second- and third-stringers in preseason games, Thornton has just one quarterback hurry and no sacks or hits in 81 snaps, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Boyd was inactive for six of the first eight games last season. Thornton could follow a similar path.

Richard Rodgers, TE (third round): Without much fanfare, Rodgers appears to have won the starting job over veteran Andrew Quarless and up-and-comer Brandon Bostick (who went down with a foot injury in the second preseason game). However, Bostick almost certainly would have been the tight end in two-minute situations and likely will be when he returns next month. Rodgers' blocking has to catch up to his pass-catching ability.

Carl Bradford, LB (fourth round): It doesn't matter how the Packers spin the last-minute decision to switch Bradford from outside to inside linebacker this week, that's a tell-tale sign that they're concerned he may never be able to be a productive pass-rusher off the edge. Thompson has not cut a fourth-round rookie since receiver Cory Rodgers in 2006, but Bradford has been just as disappointing. If he makes it, it's solely because they're not ready to give up on him yet.

Corey Linsley, C (fifth round): This was supposed to be a redshirt season for him, but the knee injury to Tretter last week means Linsley might be the most important rookie on the team when the Packers open the regular season in Seattle. His responsibility as the starting center, even if it's only until Tretter returns, is far greater than what any other member of this draft class faces. Physically, he looks the part, but his mental errors have hampered him.

Jared Abbrederis, WR (fifth round): The former Wisconsin standout almost certainly would have made a strong push for the No. 5 or 6 receiver spot if not for a torn ACL in the first week of camp. He also would have had a chance at the kick return job but instead will spend his rookie season on injured reserve.

Demetri Goodson, CB (sixth round): The former college basketball player at Gonzaga who then played three years of football at Baylor has struggled mightily in coverage despite obvious athleticism. He sustained a concussion in last Friday's preseason game against the Raiders, leaving his status his doubt.

Jeff Janis, WR (seventh round): Still raw and unschooled in the complexities of the Packers’ offense, Janis' speed can't be ignored, which is why Thompson likely will keep him on the roster. After his impressive 34-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the second preseason game, it's likely a team would claim him before the Packers could sneak him through to the practice squad.

Undrafted rookies with a chance: Defensive tackle Mike Pennel of Colorado State-Pueblo is a virtual lock to make the roster after B.J. Raji's season-ending injury, while outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott (who is tied for the NFL preseason lead in sacks with four) might be only one more good showing away from joining him on the 53.
Jeff JanisJasen Vinlove/USA TODAY SportsJeff Janis turned a short reception into a 34-yard touchdown scamper Saturday.
On the eve of what would be his first NFL game, Saturday's preseason affair against the St. Louis Rams, rookie receiver Jeff Janis could not help but think about his father.

As the Green Bay Packers' seventh-round pick sat in his St. Louis hotel room and prepared for his debut, Janis knew it was the anniversary of his dad's death. Christopher Janis died on that day, four years earlier, of liver cancer.



So forgive the 23-year-old if he got emotional one day later in front of 55,072 people at the Edward Jones Dome.

For it was his father who entered his thoughts as soon as he realized what he had just done the first time he caught the ball in a professional game on Saturday. After Janis grabbed a short crossing route from quarterback Matt Flynn in the third quarter, he flashed the speed that allowed him to run a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the combine (only three receivers ran faster in Indianapolis this year). He turned down the left sideline and outran safety Christian Bryant to the end zone.

Then, in his words, he "kind of blacked out. It was pretty exciting."

And in an instant, it hit him.

"I think I had a pretty good guardian angel over me today," Janis said. "I'm just glad everything happened the way it did."

For Janis, it may have sealed his spot on the Packers' opening-day roster. After missing the first seven practices because of a case of shingles, which was diagnosed on the eve of training camp, Janis returned to the field with a flurry. On his first day as a full participant, he snagged a one-handed catch for a touchdown over cornerback Sam Shields. From there, not a practice went by that Janis didn't make an eye-catching play.

But he still needed to do it in a game.

Coach Mike McCarthy held out Janis from the preseason opener at Tennessee, so Saturday's game against the Rams was his first chance to show that his small-school success at Saginaw Valley State and practice-field production would translate to a game.

"It was great to get Jeff out there finally," McCarthy said. "It was great experience for him, and he continues to do something every day. That's something that you look for.”

The next step will be to do it with the starters and against an opponent's starters. That chance could come against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, when McCarthy likely will play quarterback Aaron Rodgers for more than just the two series he did against the Rams.

But the 6-foot-3 Janis already has captured his teammates' attention.

"He's made a few plays," Rodgers said. "He's athletic. He's fast. He ran his route, caught a ball and outran everybody today. When you're playing against the first string, you have to run crisp routes and make the plays that are there, so plays like today help him out confidence-wise for sure. He did it in practice last week. Coming back from his ailment, he did a nice job for us."

Said Jordy Nelson: "Janis obviously showed his speed tonight. I was very impressed. He got up the sideline."

Halfway through the preseason, Janis might be the leading contender for the fifth receiver spot behind Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and second-round pick Davante Adams, who had two catches for 28 yards against the Rams. Janis also got three chances as a punt returner. He had two fair catches and one return for 9 yards.

But Janis wasn't thinking about roster spots or depth charts after Saturday's game. This was a day for him and his dad.

"He's just probably got a big grin on his face, and he's just as excited as I am," Janis said.
Mike McCarthy wanted to see more big plays from the Green Bay Packers in their second preseason game Saturday at St. Louis.

He came away from the 21-7 victory over the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome feeling like the Packers did that.

Among the things that would fit into the big-play category were:

    [+] EnlargeLacy
    AP Photo/Scott KaneEddie Lacy contributed his share of production Saturday for the Packers, but the team output could've been much greater if not for penalties.
  • A total of 279 yards passing by his top-three quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers (11-of-13 for 128 yards), Scott Tolzien (10-of-15 for 107 yards) and Matt Flynn (2-of-3 for 44 yards and a touchdown pass) -- who combined for a 122.9 passer rating.
  • Runs of at least 10 yards by three running backs -- Eddie Lacy (with a long run of 13 yards), DuJuan Harris (10) and LaDarius Perkins (14).
  • Catches of 14 yards or more by seven players -- Andrew Quarless (with long reception of 35 yards), Jeff Janis (34), Michael Hill (27), Randall Cobb (22), Kevin Dorsey (18), Lacy (18) and Davante Adams (14).
  • Seven sacks, including three in a four-play stretch in the fourth quarter by rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott.

"I thought our big-play production as a football team was very high," McCarthy said after the game.

But he also knows his team lost out on several other potential big plays because of penalties. In a game that featured 22 accepted penalties for 171 yards, the Packers committed 12 of them for 95 yards.

Four of those flags nullified potential impact plays. They were:

  • An illegal use of hands on starting left tackle David Bakhtiari in the second quarter on what would have been a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Instead, the Packers were forced to replay third down, and Rodgers couldn't connect with Quarless so settled for a field goal.
  • An illegal use of hands on backup center Corey Linsley in the third quarter that wiped out a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tolzien to Myles White. The Packers did not get any points on that drive after McCarthy decided to let the offense try to convert the next two plays. In a meaningful game, McCarthy would have taken the three points.
  • An illegal use of hands on backup defensive Carlos Gray in the fourth quarter that took away an interception by safety Chris Banjo. On his pass rush, Gray knocked off the helmet of a Rams' lineman.
  • A pass interference on starting cornerback Sam Shields in the second quarter on a third-down incompletion that would have forced the Rams to punt. Instead, they continued the drive and turned it into their only touchdown.

The Packers spent three days with an NFL officiating crew during the first week of training camp, so they know what is being emphasized this season. Still, Rodgers called all the flags "way over the top."

"Especially after a big play, you're always looking back to see if there's a penalty out there," Rodgers said. "We don't want to get down that road too far. Hopefully, it's the preseason, and they're working their kinks out as well."

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