GREEN BAY, Wis. – Mike McCarthy thinks the Green Bay Packers have the deepest group of receivers he's seen in his nine years as head coach.
Some of them need to start catching the ball.
With Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and Davante Adams (wrist) sidelined for Monday's practice, there were opportunities galore for the receivers fighting for perhaps the last roster spot or two. How often does Myles White get the chance to run in the two-minute drill with Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the No. 1 offense? Or Kevin Dorsey get an entire series with the No. 2 offense in the same drill?
That was the case on Monday, and neither second-year pro seized his chance.
Dorsey dropped a pair of passes in the one-hour and 55-minute practice, including one in the two-minute period. White, who also got the chance to line up with the No. 2 unit in the two-minute period, dropped what would have been a drill-ending, 20-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flynn.
Earlier in practice, Gerrard Sheppard, a first-year receiver who shown some flashes, also dropped a pass.
If the torrential rains that impacted Saturday's preseason game at Tennessee was an excuse, there was not one on Monday.
"It's why you have the preseason games and really coming out of last week, they'll be champing at the bit to have a productive passing game," McCarthy said of the young receivers. "Yeah, I definitely would like to see those guys jump out. It's going to be competitive, and I think clearly it will come down to the end. It's like we said before camp even started, that group has the most depth that we've ever had in a training camp."
About the only one who took advantage of Monday's circumstances was rookie Jeff Janis, who made his second spectacular catch since he returned last week after missing the first seven practices of camp because of shingles. During a team period, he made a twisting grab on a deep throw from Scott Tolzien against cornerback Casey Hayward. Last Wednesday, he made a one-handed catch for a touchdown over Sam Shields.
But Janis has not done it in a game yet. The Packers held him out against the Titans even though he practiced last week. His debut should come Saturday at St. Louis.
"We're hoping to get him to a position where he can play in a game," McCarthy said. "He's raw; he needs the work. But you know he's a big, athletic receiver that has excellent body control."
In limited opportunities, the seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State has shown why the Packers took a shot at the small-school receiver in the seventh round. At 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, perhaps the only other receiver on the roster that can match Janis in stature is Nelson.
Still, it was a bit of a flier, even in the seventh-round, because there was no way to know whether Janis was just beating up on inferior competition at the Division II level. But his two biggest plays in camp so far have come against perhaps the Packers' top-two cover cornerbacks.
"I think one of my best attributes is being able to stretch the field and have the quarterback throw the ball downfield and make a play on the ball," Janis said. "That's what I'm trying to get done."