GREEN BAY - Just two days shy of three weeks since breaking a bone along his right forefinger, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis was back on the field trying to convince his bosses he can play with a club on his hand.
If there’s a wide receiver who has actually played effectively with his hand in a splint and wrapped with a protective covering and layers of tape, his story isn’t well known.
But Janis isn’t as much wide receiver as he is coverage specialist for the Packers’ special teams and so the notion that he might be able to help the team come the season opener in Jacksonville isn’t completely ridiculous.
“Well, if they’ll let him, I think he can, (do it),” special teams coach Ron Zook said. “He was running around out there today and other than the club, he looked pretty good to me."
At the time he fractured his hand, Janis had done next to nothing as a receiver and was competing for a spot on the 53-man roster mostly on the strength of his outstanding 2015 season covering punts and kickoffs. Janis was so good on punt coverage that he was consistently drawing two, three and sometimes four blockers.
He was a major reason punter Tim Masthay set a career mark in net average.
It isn’t known if coach Mike McCarthy plans to use Janis on Thursday night in Kansas City when the Packers play their final exhibition game. But as one of eight receivers with a legitimate chance of making the 53-man roster, he definitely would help his cause by showing he can function on special teams with his hand wrapped up.
“Can he make a tackle I guess would be the biggest question to me?” Zook said. “Can he go down there and make a tackle, which is going to force him to wrap up? But when you wrap up, you want to grab and all that kind of stuff.
“If he can get ’em on the ground the doctors say he can do it and Coach says he’s up, I’m all for it.”
As for playing receiver, Janis did manage to pull in a ball during practice, but him lining up on offense with a club on his hand in the regular season is about as likely as him kicking an extra point this season.
Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett was willing to oblige a question about Janis catching a pass Monday and even conceded he could make some body catches playing with the club on. But playing him with a game on the line? Bennett didn’t go that far.