GREEN BAY – It certainly wasn’t ideal for the Green Bay Packers to be down to two tight ends for practice Sunday, but coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t complaining about the workload in gave starter Jermichael Finley in the steamy Don Hutson Center.
With only one preseason game left – this Thursday against Kansas City – Finley hasn’t gotten as much work as he or the team would have preferred this preseason.
“I thought today’s practice was exactly what Jermichael needed,” McCarthy said of Finley, who missed the first two preseason games with a quadriceps strain and last Thursday night’s victory at Cincinnati following the birth of his son London Dash. “It was hot in there, that was a taxing practice, I thought it was a good practice and he needed that as much of that as he can possibly get between now and Kansas City. He hasn’t played. He needs as much as he can possibly get in the practice environment. As we all know, practice is important, but it’s still not the game.”
Finley was in Cincinnati last Thursday morning when his wife, Courtney, called with big news.
“Courtney called me and said, ‘My water broke.’ I was like, ‘Quit playing me, I’m trying to study right now.’ Then she hung up,” Finley said. He then went to McCarthy, who sent him to the airport to catch the next flight home. Finley has just booked his ticket – with a layover, since there are no direct Cincinnati-to-Austin Straubel flights – when Courtney called again.
“At 11:25, she said, ‘London’s already here.’ I said, ‘I’m already at the airport, so I’m coming,’” Finley said. “I just wanted to be there.
“It was any day. And she was telling me, ‘It’s going to be when you’re gone.’ So I was waiting for it. So I told Mike and it was no question.”
Mom and baby are both doing well, Finley said. Now, despite the newborn-induced sleep deprivation, Finley needs a strong week of practice since the starters are unlikely to see much action against the Chiefs. Finley has spoken in the past about getting on the same page as quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and after an early-camp concussion, the quadriceps injury and the baby’s arrival, the two haven’t worked as much together this summer as Finley had hoped.
But, Sunday’s practice helped.
“I got some good work out there. I’m pretty exhausted right now. But (it was) meaningful. Me and A-Rod got some work done, that’s pretty good right there,” Finley said. “I feel great, man. I feel big things coming right now.
“I’m just going to work these three days pretty hard, obviously we’re down tight ends right now, so that’s a good thing for me. I’m with it, I’m excited.”
Finley and rookie free agent Brandon Bostick were the only two tight ends practicing with Tom Crabtree (shoulder), Ryan Taylor (chest), D.J. Williams (ankle) and DeMarco Cosby (hamstring) all sidelined and Andrew Quarless (knee) yet to be cleared for practice. It was so bad that linebackers Vic So’oto and Jamari Lattimore played tight end on the scout team.
Finley, though, said he’s not worried about being ready for the Sept. 9 opener against San Francisco, even if he plays sparingly against the Chiefs.
“I feel good right now, I’m excited about this plan right now,” Finley said. “I’ve played football. When I touch the grass, it’s a whole different game. I think going out there, I’ll be ready for sure.”
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There are no games scheduled for today.