GREEN BAY, Wis. -- They were only two plays, but perhaps it was the beginning of something big for Jeff Janis.
Or maybe he will go back to being the player Green Bay Packers' fans clamor for but seldom see on the field.
But at least the second-year receiver who quickly became a fan favorite perhaps because of his small-college roots at Saginaw Valley State finally got his chance in a meaningful game. If nothing else, Janis' two catches for 79 yards in Sunday’s 27-20 victory against the San Diego Chargers at Lambeau Field will give coach Mike McCarthy and his offensive staff something to think about during this week’s bye.
“I like what he did with his opportunities on offense,” McCarthy said after Sunday’s game. “Huge play in the game. I think he's another example of a young player really stepping up in his second year."
Janis’ opportunity, like many in the NFL, was born out of an injury to another player. Three plays after Ty Montgomery had to be helped off the field because of a left ankle injury, Janis found himself in a free-play situation when the Chargers jumped offside.
He did exactly what he was supposed to do -- go deep – and Rodgers fired the ball his way for a 46-yard completion down the sideline. It was one of only two passes Rodgers threw more than 30 yards in the air – a part of his game that has been missing this season without injured receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams – but at least he completed one of them.
Janis, who was targeted four times in all, showed off his 4.42 40-yard dash speed on his other catch – a 33-yard gain in the fourth quarter after Rodgers avoided a sack and flipped a short pass to Janis, who gained 28 yards after the catch.
At the end of that play, Rodgers ran down the field and patted Janis on the helmet as if to say, 'Welcome to the NFL, kid.'
“He made two good plays," Rodgers said. "He made the reaction play on the kind-of scramble drill and as I evaded the rush there on the last drive he did a nice job to use his speed. He’s a fast guy, we like to try to get him in space at times and he did a good job with the run after the catch there.”
It was a big moment for a player who had struggled to earn Rodgers’ trust in his first seasons.
“It was pretty awesome, just to get Aaron’s trust and have his confidence in me,” Janis said. “It felt really good, so hopefully he’ll look my way a little more often.”