Finley predicts points parade
GREEN BAY The depth chart says Jermichael Finley is a tight end. His speed and ability to avoid tackles after the catch make him look more like a really big wide receiver.
Finley talks like a prototypical wide receiver, too.
Entering his fourth season for the Green Bay Packers, Finley has cultivated a reputation for making bold statements. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has suggested that anything Finley says should come with some sort of disclaimer, warning people not to take it too seriously.
Finley’s most recent proclamation came this week, when asked how many points the Packers should score per game this season.
“Put it like this: We should score every time we get the ball,” Finley said. “So you add that up.”
Just Jermichael being Jermichael.
“I think we’ve got the deadliest offense in the league,” Finley said. “We don’t get that much pub or whatnot, but at the same time we’re on paper right now. We’ve still got to go on the field and do the work.”
Yes, Finley might be prone to bragging, but his biggest goal this season is a relatively humble one. Coming off a season-ending injury to his right knee, Finley simply wants to stay healthy for a full season.
“I need 16 games, man,” Finley said. “If I get 16 games, I think I can do some damage to a stat sheet. I guarantee you that.”
Finley’s knee seems fine in training camp so far, although he did sit out Wednesday night because of what Packers coach Mike McCarthy called a “glute contusion.” It wasn’t immediately clear if he would miss the Packers’ preseason opener at Cleveland on Saturday.
“I have no reason to believe it’s serious,” McCarthy said.
Finley’s contract is up at the end of this season, and proving he can stay healthy for a full season—he missed time with a left knee injury in 2009—could drive his worth up considerably.
“It’s a business,” Finley said. “If they come at me with a long-term (contract), of course I’ll take it. But if they don’t, I’m going to still play ball to my best.”
Packers general manager Ted Thompson didn’t want to talk about the possibility of a new contract for Finley. But Thompson said he doesn’t mind Finley’s penchant for bold proclamations.
“ ‘J-Mike’ is a very competitive guy on the field, and he’s very outgoing in the way that he talks and things like that, “ Thompson said. “I don’t mind that. I think you can cross the line sometimes, but I’ve not seen where J-Mike has crossed the line.”
Finley said he slimmed down during the offseason, from 255 pounds to 240, and hasn’t lost any strength. He insists he’ll be able to block at that weight.
“I can still block, for sure, if the coaches put that in front of my face,” Finley said. “If I’ve got 50 blocks a game, I guess I’ve got to do it and I’ll be beat up after the game.”
Although he’s only 24, Finley counts as a seasoned veteran in the Packers’ young group of tight ends. But that doesn’t mean he’s going out of his way to take a leadership role.
“No, I’m not a talkative guy,” Finley said. “I just like to get out there and work and do my job, to tell you the truth. It’s a business and you’ve got to do what you can to get where you want.”
So does Finley not think it’s part of his job to help his younger teammates?
“I ain’t saying it’s not my job to help them,” Finley said. “I’m in the playbook just like they need to be in the playbook. If they’ve got questions I’ll answer for them. But at the same time it’s about that time for me to just take off.”
Finley spent the offseason watching film of other tight ends, such as San Diego’s Antonio Gates and Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez. But Finley also watches Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne because he admires the way Wayne can beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage.
“It’s going to be one of those years where I’m going to be putting a lot of work and a lot of time at the stadium just to get where I want to be,” Finley said.
And where’s that?
“What drives me is just being the best, man,” Finley said. “Every aspect of my life, I like to be the best at what I do. That’s what drives me to wake up and do what I do.”
It’s to just be the best.”