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McCarthy 'very open and optimistic' about Finley return from injury

Feb 21, 2014 -- 1:35pm
 
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Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that Jermichael Finley’s spinal fusion surgery is not the same as that of safety Nick Collins and expressed optimism about his return.
 

INDIANAPOLIS – Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy expressed optimism Friday that unrestricted free-agent tight end Jermichael Finley will be able to resume his NFL career and hope that the team would be able to re-sign the tight end.

The 26-year-old Finley, who suffered a bruised spinal cord in an Oct. 20 game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field and underwent single fusion cervical spine surgery in November, is set to become a free agent on March 11. He has not yet been cleared by the doctor who performed the surgery, Pittsburgh Steelers doctor Joseph Maroon, but McCarthy indicated in an interview Friday that the Packers’ team doctor, Patrick McKenzie, is encouraged by Finley’s prognosis.

Unlike three-time Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who like Finley underwent a fusion of the C3/C4 vertebrae in 2011 and has not resumed his NFL career, Finley evidently has a brighter outlook, according to McCarthy.

“Pat (McKenzie) doesn't feel the same way about Jermichael as he felt about Nick,” McCarthy said in an interview at his hotel in downtown Indianapolis during a break in the annual NFL Scouting Combine. “So I'm very open and optimistic about Jermichael coming back. I think the specifics of their injuries are different."

Finley recently allowed writer Jenny Vrentas of theMMQB.com (the Peter King-led football website from Sports Illustrated) to observe and chronicle his rehabilitation for a story that debuted on the site Wednesday. Finley also penned a first-person column for theMMQB.com in the wake of his injury and had his comeback chronicled in a long-form piece by ESPN’s Josina Anderson in December, and he also worked Radio Row at Super Bowl XLVIII in New York earlier this month, saying that he definitely wants to play again.

“Maybe [I should] take my X-rays to the combine now that I’m a free agent,” Finley told Vrentas in advance of the NFL Scouting Combine, which kicked off Wednesday. “That’s me being real.”

Earlier this week, Finley posted to his Twitter account that he is weighing in at 260 pounds with only 10 percent body fat.

Finley, who signed only a two-year, $14 million deal the last time he was on the verge of free agency in February 2012, had caught 25 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns at the time of his injury.

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