Packers' Janis No Stranger to Overcoming Adversity

By Ryan Rodig |

Published 08/06 2014 07:58PM

Updated 08/06 2014 08:26PM

(WFRV-TV)  As a 7th round pick from a division two school Packers rookie WR Jeff Janis already faced an uphill battle coming into the NFL.

"I think the biggest crowd I played in front of in school was probably 12-13,000," said Janis who played at Saginaw Valley State in Michigan. 

Throw in the fact that Janis joined an already deep and talented receiver group in Green Bay, and missed the first week of training camp with the shingles, and that climb to make the Packers roster got even more steep.

"It was unfortunate what happened, but hey that's out of my hands," said Janis of the missed time.  "All I can do now is move forward."

"Jeff's a talented guy," said QB Aaron Rodgers after admitted the first-year WR has some catching up to do.

"I think we saw in the spring and summer the kind of talent he's got.  There's an opportunity there with Jared (Abbrederis) going down for him and others to step in and make some plays."

The 6'3" 219 lb wideout with 4.4 speed did just that Wednesday, wowing fans at Ray Nitchske Field with one of the best plays of camps so far when he corralled a one-handed touchdown catch from Scott Tolzien on a fade route over Sam Shields.

"I kind of feel like I took off where I left off from OTA's and minicamp," said Janis after practice.  "It is football so it's not something that is easily forgotten.  Once you get back out there you just kind of take off.  That's kind of how I felt today."

This isn't the first time Janis has been a first year player missing the beginning of camp.  As a freshman at  Saginaw Valley State, Janis lost his father to liver cancer, making his most recent struggle seem insignificant by comparison."

"At that point I wasn't even sure if I was going to play football again," Janis admitted.  "I took some time off and luckily I came back.  I just thought it was something that my dad would really want me to do is continue working and playing football."

Janis went on to re-write the record books at Saginaw Valley State becoming the school's all-time leader in receiving yards, touchdowns, and catches.  He then became just the 4th player from his school and the first Cardinals receiver to be drafted in the NFL.

Even better. the Michigan native says he landed with a team his dad would be proud of.

"Everybody in Michigan is a Lions fan," said Janis.  "But he was always one of those that was a Lions fan that also liked to cheer for the Packers too.  So it's pretty cool."

Like his freshman year of college, the first year player says spending time away from the game has made him appreciate it even more.

"When I was sitting in the hospital a week ago, it really makes you think about things and makes you feel blessed to be able to come out here and be healthy to play the game of football.  It gives you a little different perspective on it."

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