Jeff Janis might be finding a potential big-play niche on special teams as a punt rusher.
The second-year receiver had two good rushes on punts in last week’s preseason opener at New England, though neither resulted in a block. On the first Janis had a good jump coming off the edge but ran past punter Ryan Allen rather than going for the ball because he was concerned about running into the kicker. On the second, Janis again had a great jump and made a diving attempt to block the punt but just missed.
“I didn’t have quite the right angle (on the first one), so if I would have tried to block it I would have probably roughed him,” Janis said. “But the second time, when I dove for it, I re-watched the film and I was an inch away.”
In college at Saginaw Valley State, Janis worked only as a return man on special teams, so last season as a rookie was the first time he’d been a punt rusher. This year, along with rushing the punter he’s working regularly as a gunner on punt coverage; a front-line blocker on kickoff return; and an outside runner on kickoff coverage.
Performing well on any and all of those special teams will only improve Janis’ chances of sticking on the 53-man roster. But he will especially draw notice if he’s a threat to make a potential game-changing play as a punt rusher.
“I’m hoping so,” Janis said. “Even last year in a couple regular season games I was rushing punts and getting back there, getting close. I think it’s going to happen pretty soon.”