Packers TE Finley eager to return to form

Packers TE Finley eager to return to form

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The tough ending notwithstanding, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy still has vivid memories of the emergence of Jermichael Finley in the 51-45 overtime loss at Arizona in an NFC playoff game during the 2009 season.

``That was clearly one of the most dominant performances I've ever been a part of, of a tight end in a game,'' McCarthy said Friday.

In just his second year as a pro and playing in the postseason for the first time, Finley had six catches for 159 yards in what remains the NFL's highest-scoring playoff game. The breakout performance resulted in stardom for the Packers' young tight end.

Those big games that were predicted to be the norm for the talented and seemingly unstoppable Finley have been a rare occurrence the last three years.

A knee injury kept him from contributing to the run to the Super Bowl title in 2010. Dropped passes hampered him last year, and the first half of this season has been filled with more drops and another injury.

The 159 yards receiving in the desert against the Cardinals on Jan. 10, 2010, still stands as Finley's career high, and his last 100-yard game was in Week 3 of the 2010 season. Finley has only 28 catches for 265 yards and a touchdown at the halfway point this season.

``It's opportunity, getting trust back from A-Rod,'' Finley said, referring to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. ``If I was the quarterback, I wouldn't throw it to the guy who's off rhythm right now, either. So I've got to get that trust back.''

Buoyed by a personalized video McCarthy had made for him and extensive talks with Rodgers the night before a game, Finley is looking to become a dominant force again when the Packers (5-3) host Arizona (4-4) on Sunday. It's the first meeting between the teams since the playoff shootout.

``I feel it. I feel it, seriously,'' Finley said after Friday's practice about tapping into his big-play capabilities.

Green Bay's offense could use a big game from Finley with Greg Jennings still sidelined and fellow starting receiver Jordy Nelson questionable with a hamstring injury.

Finley practiced Friday as he recovers from a partially dislocated shoulder suffered against Indianapolis on Oct. 7. The fifth-year veteran has played with the injury the last three games, but his production has been minimal with six catches for 67 yards and no touchdowns.

Finley said he is fully recovered from the injury. As for getting things right between him and Rodgers after Finley has alluded to chemistry issues with his quarterback on several occasions this season, both players are making the effort to spend more time together.

Finley said the instructive 1-on-1 chats with Rodgers go as long as 45 minutes after the team meeting at its hotel on the eve of each game.

``I'm doing it from here on out every Saturday,'' Finley said. ``The guy (Rodgers) is touching the ball 100 percent of the time. You've got to have that trust. That 30-, 45-minute meeting, that shows a lot. And he just says, `How do you want the ball?' I tell him, `It ain't how I want it, you tell me what you want me to do.'''

McCarthy is OK with his star quarterback and struggling tight end talking football until it's almost lights out. The coach has tried to do his part, putting together a video featuring Finley's highlights from his huge game against the Cardinals.

``It was revealing,'' McCarthy said. ``He was a bigger man then.''

Finley said McCarthy pulled him out of a meeting in the days after Green Bay's Week 4 win over New Orleans to show him the video in McCarthy's office.

``He said, `Look at this,''' Finley recalled. ``And (the video title) said, `Finley the Beast.' And it showed the playoff game of '09 against Arizona, where I was attacking the ball, not letting the ball get to my body. It was pretty sweet.

``It was mostly that playoff game, but it was games all around, the beginning of this season, when I was letting the ball get to me. He showed me that. And he showed me a couple plays where I was plucking it, going out and getting the ball.''

McCarthy said the impetus for the video was twofold: to give a confidence boost to Finley and point out flaws in his pass-catching technique that were apparent earlier this season.

``It got me pumped. It got me jacked up. I'm not going to lie,'' Finley said. ``Everybody has a coming-out game in the season where they get comfortable and start rolling, and I'm hoping it's this game (against the Cardinals) once again. They've got pretty much the same guys, so I have to play my type of ball.''

Notes: Besides Jennings, who underwent surgery Thursday for an abdominal tear, the Packers will be without four more starters Sunday: S Charles Woodson (collarbone), LB Nick Perry (knee), CB Sam Shields (ankle) and FB John Kuhn (hamstring). Rodgers, who has been on the injury report the last three weeks because of a calf injury, is probable to play, along with Finley, WR Donald Driver (neck/thumb), G T.J. Lang (elbow/wrist) and NT B.J. Raji (ankle). . Rookie DE Jerel Worthy is out for Sunday because of a concussion he sustained in the last game. Green Bay's defensive line, however, could have end Mike Neal available. He practiced the last two days on a limited basis after suffering a sprained ankle Sunday and is probable. . Rookie S Jerron McMillian didn't practice Friday and was added to the injury report because of a back ailment. He is questionable for Sunday.

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.