Jeff Janis fractured his right hand in practice this week, and could miss the rest of the preseason, reports ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. Given that Janis was already reportedly having a rough training camp, the timing of this injury is brutal for him.
Janis’s tenure in Green Bay has been bizarre in a way that I’m not sure I’ve ever otherwise seen. When he’s on the field, he just seems to be a magnet for making plays. The two hail mary’s he caught from Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay’s final drive in regulation of what was an eventual overtime playoff lost last season are the most prominent examples of this in the minds of national fans. In that game, he caught seven balls for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
In the 2014 preseason, Janis, a seventh round pick, caught two touchdowns. In the regular season he appeared in three games and had just two targets. Last year he made multiple big plays again in the preseason. Though he suited up for all 16 regular season games, he was barely out there. A notable exception was an October game against San Diego where he caught two balls for 79 yards.
It is strange when you see someone consistently making the most of his opportunities, and not subsequently receive more of them. However, when you read tealeaves on quotes from coaches and even Aaron Rodgers, it always feels like they are uncomfortable with him. For example:
As Demovsky notes in his injury report, Packers receivers coach Edgar Bennett called Janis a “work in progress”; he would always be behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery, provided they’re healthy, on the depth chart. Despite a 2015 season rife with drops and miscommunications, Davante Adams clearly holds a more favorable opinion in the minds of Rodgers and the coaching staff. Jared Abbrederis is back from injury. Undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison continually has nice things said about him. If Allison continues to make noise, Janis’s job could be in danger.
There are massive conspiracy theories amongst a certain segment of Packers fans. Here’s an eight minute talk segment about how Aaron Rodgers and Ted Thompson want Janis to fail:
One thing that is apparent is that Rodgers, Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Edgar Bennett do not feel that Jeff Janis’s route-running ability is commensurate with the extent to which we’ve seen him make plays. This isn’t a conspiracy, but it’s clear that the people tasked with making a decision on Janis have a different opinion on him than many Packers fans do.