Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, right, is stopped
by St. Louis Rams safety Rodney McLeod, left, and cornerback
Janoris Jenkins, center, after catching a pass for a 33-yard
gain during the second quarter of an NFL football game on
Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in St. Louis.
GREEN BAY —
Neither a defender nor the sound of a whistle could stop Packers
tight end Jermichael Finley.
Two passes, two
nice catches on the run for Finley in practice Tuesday. After
sidestepping defenders for extra yards, Finley kept right on going
for the goal line each time even after coaches blew the plays
By all accounts,
Finley is having one of the best preseasons of his six-year NFL
career in Green Bay — and that could spell more trouble for
defenses trying to defend one of the toughest passing attacks in
"He's a joy
to coach," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's a lot more
mature. Physically he's in a place where he wants to be and he's
having his finest training camp, I think it's clear cut."
Last week against
the Rams, Finley caught four passes for 78 yards in limited time
during a 19-7 win over the Rams, including a 33-yard reception
from Aaron Rodgers. Finley had 61 catches last year, setting a
record for a Packers tight end.
At 6-foot-5, the
athletic Finley sports a toned physique that could give safeties
headaches over the middle. A perfectionist who wants to play every
practice snap, Finley appears happy and confident, sure of his
"I'm in a
great place. I've always been in a good place and what not, but
now we've got the timing down and the chemistry, steps and the
coverage," he said this week.
Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (88) runs with the
ball after catching a pass for a 33-yard gain during the
second quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis
Rams, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in St. Louis.
good out there, I'm moving well. What can you ask for more?"
This is good news
for a Packers offense that's had to deal with preseason injuries
to receivers Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (biceps). A
playmaking Finley opens up the field more for the formidable
receiving trio of Nelson, Cobb and James Jones.
Tight end coach
Jerry Fontenot attributes Finley's development to his experience
and work ethic. After six years, Finley knows McCarthy's
expectations. He's familiar with the offense. He's developed
chemistry with Rodgers.
A drill first
instituted last season catching "fastballs" from about 6
yards away has helped keep the intense Finley loose.
focus is just to have him relax ... to not be stressed out,
intense and worried about what's going to happen if I don't"
catch the ball, Fontenot said. "He's diligent and he's
determined to get through the rough spots."
Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley runs with the ball
after catching a pass for a 34-yard gain during the second
quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams
Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in St. Louis.
Plus, Finley has
added some muscle that might also help him in the run game. Get
the running game going behind DuJuan Harris and rookie Eddie Lacy
and the Packers could be even more formidable with the ball.
understands. McCarthy said his tight end is being asked to do more
of the "dirty work" this preseason compared to the last
As for the
passing game, Finley appears to have it down pat with Rodgers.
in the practice field first and then in the classroom,"
Finley said. "If you do it in practice, it will show on the
missed practice Tuesday due to illness but was expected to return
Wednesday. "We all have families here, I think we're all
aware that there's some stuff going around at this particular
time, and Aaron is one of the many thousands of people that has a
head cold," McCarthy said. "I think he's going to be
fine." Vince Young, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman, who are
vying to back up Rodgers, handled practice snaps. ... Young is
progressing two weeks after signing with the Packers. "He
still moves very well, but no, the timing is not exactly where
you'd expect because he hasn't had a lot of time and reps with
the" receivers, McCarthy said. "But we've made a lot of
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Getting
Aaron Rodgers back after a sick day wasn't enough to keep
Packers coach Mike McCarthy from being in a somewhat sour mood.
His quarterback looked just fine Wednesday after sitting out a
practice due to illness. The team as whole? Not so much.
"Today was the final practice to get ready for the Seahawks,"
McCarthy said, referring to Green Bay's preseason opponent
Friday night. "We were in pads today for a reason. We didn't
take full advantage of the opportunity to get ready to play."
To the untrained eye, practice appeared as if it went relatively
smoothly. Rodgers, the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player, delighted
training camp fans by hitting nets from at least 20 yards away
during accuracy drills. Working against mainly against the
second-string defense, Rodgers looked sharp during a red-zone
drill with four straight touchdown strikes, including a
laser-like pass to tight end Jake Stoneburner.
Before the ring of reporters around his locker could ask a
question, Rodgers declared "I'm fine." The head cold that kept
him out Tuesday apparently wasn't an issue any more.
McCarthy concurred before disclosing more pressing issues.
"I thought Aaron Rodgers looked fine. I thought practice in
general ... I thought we started off the way it needed to be; I
need to get a look at the video," McCarthy said. "I wasn't very
happy with the way we practiced once we got to the 'move the
ball' periods, so as far as individual performance, I'm a little
jaded right now."
He didn't name names. But rest assured, the Packers will hear
about whatever's bothering the head coach.
"I didn't see any of that, so I'm not sure what you're talking
about," Rodgers said when asked if he had a sense of what was
Defensive tackle B.J. Raji wasn't sure, either.
"Coach has a different vantage point than I do. I'm generally
more worried about my position, my assignments and my side of
the ball. Coach obviously has a broader perspective. He has a
certain tempo he's looking for," Raji said. "If he wasn't happy
with it, then it wasn't good enough."
There was some positive news with receiver Randall Cobb
returning to practice on a limited basis after being bothered by
a biceps injury. McCarthy said there was a chance Cobb could go
Running back DuJuan Harris looks like he'll make his preseason
debut Friday after being sidelined by a knee injury. Harris
seemed to be practicing at full speed, looking good making cuts
around the edge on a couple of handoffs. Harris may need a
strong showing against the Seahawks to stave off rookie Eddie
Lacy, who made his impressive debut last week against the Rams
with 40 yards on eight carries in the first half.
To McCarthy, it's all about players getting the opportunities to
make statements. With training camp nearing an end, those
opportunities are getting fewer — so perhaps that's part of the
reason the head coach wasn't satisfied Wednesday.
But Harris was one of the players he singled out for good play.
"He practiced the way you're supposed to. I would say he was one
of the guys that went about it the right way," McCarthy said.
"So we'll see what the medical people say, but yeah, definitely
I'd like to get him out there and get him going."
McCarthy said he also feels good about receiver Jordy Nelson's
progress from a minor knee procedure that's kept him off the
practice field. Nelson, who has been walking around and throwing
footballs at times with fellow receivers, hopes to return for
the season opener Sept. 8 at San Francisco.
First-round pick and defensive end Datone Jones did limp off
after apparently hurting his left ankle, which he injured
earlier in the preseason.
Rodgers is a savvy veteran, the longest tenured Packer, in fact,
with nine years in Green Bay. Whether or not he gets any more
meaningful action in preseason games after Friday, Rodgers knows
As a veteran player, "you want to make sure that you're making
the plays that are there on the field and thinking the right
kind of things and getting out of the game healthy," he said,
"and realizing that the regular season is just around the