Friday, October 25, 2013
Finley's return to Lambeau boosts spirits
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It may be weeks or even months before any decision is made about the future of Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, but some sense of normalcy has returned for him.
A day after he was released from a local hospital, which included one night in the intensive care unit at Bellin Hospital, Finley returned to Lambeau Field for the first time since he was taken off on a stretcher during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.
"I saw Jermichael this morning; he looks good," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Friday's practice. "Looked like a dang movie star walking in there with sunglasses. It was good to see him. [He had a] big smile on his face. It's great to have him back in the building."
Finley, who sustained a spinal bruise that led to a four-night hospital stay, is expected to undergo additional tests to determine whether he can return to the field. For now, Finley remains on the active roster although he has been ruled out of Sunday's game at the Minnesota Vikings.
"That information is being sent to the specialist, and then we'll have to make a decision at a certain time," McCarthy said.
The injury hit the Packers hard. Tight end Andrew Quarless, who was the first player to reach Finley after he went down, said he shed a tear when he realized Finley could not move shortly after the hit. Receiver Jordy Nelson had trouble speaking to reporters after the game without his eyes moistening.
"Just seeing [Finley] walk in here today, I think is what everybody needed to see," McCarthy said.
Finley did not make an appearance in the locker room while it was open to reporters.
The Packers did not have an issue with the hit, delivered by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, and neither did the NFL. A league spokesman confirmed Friday that Gipson was not fined for the play, although he was penalized for what referee Jeff Triplette said was a helmet-to-helmet hit even though it appeared Gipson hit Finley with his shoulder.
"I thought it was clean," Packers tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. "It looked like the safety that was coming in to make the hit really did his best to keep his head out of it and it almost looked like, I couldn't tell what happened right there at that moment, but looking back at the tape, it looked like he almost turned his back to Jermichael and Jermichael's crown on his helmet hit the safety on the back of the shoulder. To me, it wasn't maliciously intended. He was just trying to make a play."