Janis Keeps Making Plays

b99331503z.1_20140816215827_000_g857fomt.1-0The Packers evened their preseason record at 1-1 with a 21-7 win at St. Louis. I focused my attention on five players, and here’s what I saw:

DAVON HOUSE: Two plays in the second quarter showcased both the good and the not so good when it comes to the fourth-year corner. First, his stiffness in space was exposed by Stedman Bailey, a very quick – especially on turf – wide receiver. Then, on the very next snap, House’s height (6’1), long arms and sub-4.5 speed allowed him to break up a deep pass intended for the same target. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers needs to use the former New Mexico State star correctly. He’s probably not talented enough to play 35 or 40 snaps every game, but there will be certain weeks when his particular skill set will come in very handy.

JEFF JANIS: I’m not saying this kid is going to be Jordy Nelson, but the similarities are striking. Like the $40 million man, Janis also possesses great size, very good speed and surprising quickness. While his 34-yard TD catch in the third quarter came against a defense that looked like it was designed by Capers (wide open middle of the field), not many receivers could’ve turned that short toss into a score. The fact that Janis also looked comfortable fielding punts only further strengthened his hold on a spot on the 53-man roster.

MIKE PENNEL – Forget about this kid making the final 53. That’s pretty much a given. The real question now is whether he’ll contribute from scrimmage during the regular season. He just might. Not only did Pennel have his second consecutive solid game against the run, but he even showed some nifty moves as a pass rusher. It’s not every day you see a 340-pound man looking like Eddie Lacy as he spins by a would-be blocker. My only concern about the former Colorado State-Pueblo star is his tendency to take himself out of plays by being over aggressive and losing sight of the ball. Hopefully, that’s something that will improve with experience.

SCOTT TOLZIEN – The former Wisconsin star throws some beautiful passes. He just doesn’t throw enough of them. Tolzien is much better than all the stiffs that masqueraded as NFL quarterbacks last summer, but veteran Matt Flynn’s experience, steadiness and ball security will be difficult to overcome. That said, there’s too much to work with to give up on the 26-year-old after only one season, so the chances are good that the Packers will start the season with three quarterbacks for the first time since 2008.

JC TRETTER – After two preseason games, I feel about Tretter the same way I felt about David Bakhtiari last summer. He’s not going to dominate many opponents as a rookie, but he won’t be a liability. And that’s really all the Packers are expecting from their new starting center. The former Cornell star could be stressed by powerful defensive tackles, but he understands angles and gets quickly to the second level as a run blocker and he moves his feet very well in pass protection. Overall, I thought he played a little better last week, but he was more than adequate versus the Rams.

NOTES: Green Bay’s best defensive player for most of last season was defensive lineman Mike Daniels, and he’s been the best defensive player this summer. The Rams couldn’t block him. That figures to be a recurring theme for years to come… Datone Jones wasn’t unblockable, but he was a lot more active. I just wish I saw more “wow” when I watch the former No. 1 pick… I tweeted before the game that Derek Sherrod could have problems with edge rushers on a fast track, and that proved to be accurate. The fourth-year offensive tackle will have to adjust or he won’t be a reliable alternative at tackle in any game not played in a monsoon… Andrew Tiller is doing fairly well, but Lane Taylor should hold onto his job as the No. 3 guard. The second-year player from Oklahoma State has slightly quicker feet and is more reliable in protection… It’s pretty obvious that the coaches would like for either Brandon Bostick or third-round pick Richard Rodgers to seize the starting job at tight end, but Andrew Quarless isn’t going to go down without a fight. The five-year veteran from Penn State has picked up his game after a slow start… Rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott had 3 sacks in one series in the fourth quarter, but he did it against a left tackle who might’ve struggled to block me. Hopefully, the coaches will get the former Toledo star into the game earlier next week so we can get a better idea whether he’s more likely to be the next Cameron Wake or the next Vic So’oto… I keep hearing and reading positive things about second-year defensive end Josh Boyd, but I just don’t see it. My guys at training camp have been more impressed by undrafted free agent Luther Robinson, and I can understand why. He moves well for a 300-pounder and he’s playing to the whistle – something he didn’t always do while at the University of Miami.

About the author

Packer Update is the creation of a longtime fan. My name is Michael Rodney and I was a sportswriter in the early 1990s. I worked full-time for a newspaper in South Jersey, but I still managed to get quite a few articles about the Packers published during that time. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing about the most storied franchise in all of pro sports.