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McCarthy: Jeff Janis ready to 'take that next step'

Green Bay Packers fans begged, pleaded and screamed for receiver Jeff Janis' role to increase as the offense struggled sans Jordy Nelson in 2015.

During the season, coach Mike McCarthy stiff-armed the idea. Janis struggled with some key aspects of the Green Bay offense and never found a rapport with Aaron Rodgers, earning just two receptions for 79 yards in the regular season.

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After Janis' breakout performance in the NFC Divisional Round loss to the Arizona Cardinals -- seven catches, 145 yards, two touchdowns -- McCarthy is coming around on the athletic wideout.

"I like to look at Jeff as kind of an ascending Green Bay Packer," McCarthy said last week during the NFL Scouting Combine, via ESPN.com. "I look at his years, I think you look for a guy to take a jump in his second year, and clearly, you look at his rookie year, very raw, raw player. He made the 53 on potential, not on performance."

Janis' route running was his biggest problem coming out of Saginaw Valley State, where coaches asked him to do a little more than out-athlete defenders. McCarthy believes the 24-year-old receiver has made strides in all aspects of his game, which started by becoming an impact special teams player.

"Great kid, hardworking, very powerful," McCarthy said. "But there were just a lot of things, when he does them, they're for the first time. Hopefully we're out of that phase of his development. I look for Jeff to take that next step. He made the step in your second year that you look for. He did it first on special teams."

With Nelson returning and Randall Cobb sliding back to his slot role, Janis should compete with Davante Adams for the No. 3 spot in the Packers' offense this offseason. If his route running improves, Janis should swipe snaps away from the enigmatic Adams.

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