GREEN BAY – Jeff Janis noticed the double-takes as soon as the Packers receiver began biking down to Nitschke Field for the final public practice of training camp.
Donning Jordy Nelson’s No. 87 jersey, the cries of “Jordy” were quickly replaced by laughter when fans and teammates alike realized what was going on.
Moments later, Nelson appeared with pads tucked up into Janis’ No. 83 jersey. It was a tongue-in-cheek gesture by the two 6-foot-3 receivers, who are separated by a few pounds difference on the team roster.
According to Janis, the two had been planning to close training camp with the switcheroo for a couple weeks.
“Just having a little bit of fun,” Janis said. “I kind of wanted to raise my awareness level on Madden so I switched jerseys with Jordy. He wanted to raise his speed level up a little bit so he wore my jersey.”
Janis attributed one long touchdown catch during the 2-hour, 10-minute practice to the “powers” in the jersey of the NFL’s reigning comeback player of the year.
Jersey alterations are rare in practice, but not unheard of. There was a time five years ago when former Packers guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang wore “Friday” and “Sunday” jerseys next to veteran center Jeff Saturday.
“We did it one day when Saturday was here and the middle three was like Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers recalled. “Having some fun out there. Last day of this training camp. It was pretty good.”
The final week of training camp can be a stressful time for players with one preseason game remaining and roster cuts coming over the weekend.
For Nelson and Janis, it was one small way to ease tension a little bit. Several teammates had a good laugh about it after seeing the two wearing the other’s number in practice.
“There’s one game left to show what you can do,” Janis said. “Camp is pretty long, so it was something kind of light. It was fun.”
Positive returns: Two defenders returned from injury for the final open practice of camp on Tuesday, and the early word was positive on both defensive lineman Dean Lowry and cornerback Davon House.
Lowry injured his knee in the preseason game at Washington. He said he was hit from the side by one of the guards after he was engaged with the center, and his knee got overextended as he tried to keep his balance.
“I stumbled a little bit and tried to catch myself, and I wasn’t quite ready to plant,” Lowry said. “I think I dodged a bullet. I think it’s a testament to my strength training this offseason, to make sure I have a flexible hip and strong quad to make up for the bad angle that I took on my knee.
“I’m definitely happy with after the injury and where I’m at now. It’s just tough to go down like that when you’re having a good camp and good game like we were.”
Lowry was limited to just individual work in practice, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll play in the preseason finale on Thursday. He expects to be ready for Week 1 vs. Seattle.
House’s return to practice from his hamstring injury was full-go, including plenty of snaps in 11-on-11 work. He hasn’t yet played in the preseason, though he did go through warm-ups last Saturday in Denver.
Even though most starters are not expected to play on Thursday, House said he’d be fine with playing if the coaches want him to.
“It feels good to go out there with the boys again, run around a little bit,” he said. “For sure I’m shooting for Week 1.”