Coach Mike McCarthy says rookie Richard Rodgers is among the tight end group that showed major improvement from offseason work.
Although coach Mike McCarthy once again refused to close the door on a possible return by Finley, who remains unsigned and in medical limbo, he expressed overwhelming confidence in a group that, at least on the surface, appears to lack a standout player.
"I like our tight ends," McCarthy said Friday during his annual pre-training camp news conference. "I think that's a group that we've really got to get a lot of pad work. I mean, if there was ever, if you wanted to say, 'OK, what group progressed?' You went, 'OK, wow' [about the tight ends] in spring."
Given that Andrew Quarless, who finished last season as the starter following Finley's season-ending neck injury, did not practice at all during the offseason, McCarthy must be impressed with newcomers Richard Rodgers and Colt Lyerla.
The Packers picked Rodgers in the third round and signed Lyerla after a rookie tryout. Rodgers was one of the most impressive performers during the organized team activities and minicamp, and while Lyerla did not flash as often, he has the physical tools that would have warranted being drafted had there not been those much-publicized, off-the-field issues.
Another intriguing prospect is Brandon Bostick, who showed some receiving ability late last season before a foot injury ended his year.
Nevertheless, that group would look far more formidable with a healthy Finley, who visited with Packers physician Dr. Pat McKenzie last week to go over the latest tests on his surgically fused neck. However, there has been no indication McKenzie gave Finley medical clearance.
"I actually haven't seen Pat, Dr. McKenzie in quite some time," McCarthy said. "I'm not even sure the last time him and Jermichael talked or visited. We're still open to [Finley returning] and watching that. Jermichael Finley is a Green Bay Packer in my opinion, and obviously he's going through a medical situation. First and foremost, you just want him to get healthy."
The Packers reported to training camp on Friday morning with 89 players on their roster, meaning they still have room for one more player. The first practice is Saturday at 8:20 a.m. local time.