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Friday, September 24, 2010
Finley presents another big challenge

By Jeff Dickerson

Jermichael Finley is one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in the NFL.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears virtually shut down one of the league's top tight ends in the Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten on Sunday when they held him to five catches and no touchdowns before knocking him out of action with a concussion.

Minus the induction of head trauma, the Bears look to duplicate the feat Monday night when they face Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, who is also considered one of the league's elite pass-catchers at his position. Taking advantage of man-to-man coverage last week against Buffalo, Finley led four Packers scoring drives with four catches (24, 32, 22, and 15 yards) for 103 yards.

"He's a big tight end," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "He runs well, catches the ball pretty [well]. He's just like [Chargers tight end Antonio] Gates, Witten. They all run well. They all know how to get open. They're all in that same category."

While it's likely the Bears could mix in some man coverage on Finley, don't count on the look to be a regular occurrence. The Bills made that mistake on two of Finley's four receptions. Three of Finley's four receptions came on crossing routes in front of linebackers and safeties.

Luckily for the Bears, they defend a tight end -- Greg Olsen -- every day at practice. Finley currently ranks second on the team and fourth among NFL tight ends with 150 yards receiving on eight catches through the first two games.

Finley trails Indianapolis' Dallas Clark (163), Minnesota's Visanthe Shiancoe (162) and San Francisco's Vernon Davis (151) in receiving yardage for tight ends.

"We play our defense [against Finley] No. 1, and try to get the right matchups with guys in terms of our safeties and our linebackers," Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "It's like playing our offense with Greg. Obviously, he's a tremendous threat like we saw last week with Witten. Every week you're gonna see very talented skill players and we've just got to play our defense and play it correctly."