Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a bruised spinal cord in his neck Sunday but continued to have encouraging signs after undergoing further tests today at a local area hospital. Nevertheless, his evaluation will be an extensive process, according to league sources, with his return indefinite.
Finley will seek further medical opinions after he is discharged and a source said his short-term and long-term prospects for playing again will not be hastened with the team's blessing and support, the sources said. One source said Finley's return to the field is "obviously secondary" to his overall health.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Finley sustained a "significant injury." He said Finley is still at a local hospital, but was "up and performing daily activities and is in good spirit."
McCarthy wouldn't put a timeline on Finley's return, saying: "This is something that needs to be seen by more than one doctor."
McCarthy said he spent time Sunday night with Finley at the hospital.
"Jermichael is very, very upbeat, very positive," McCarthy said. "Always has a smile on his face, so I mean he's focused on what's most important. That's his health and his family."
In 2011, when safety Nick Collins sustained a neck injury in Week 2, the Packers ruled out him for the season the next day. Collins has not played since. The Packers were not ready to make any definitive statements about Finley.
"We do not have enough information," McCarthy said. "This is something that needs to be seen by more than one doctor, so I think it's important to always go through the process, do your due diligence, and you know at the end of the day we're going to do what's in the best interest of Jermichael Finley."
Finley could not move when teammate Andrew Quarless approached him after he sustained the injury during the fourth quarter. Finley was taken off Lambeau Field on a gurney. The Packers said he had movement and feeling in all of his extremities.
"He couldn't move at the time," said Quarless, a backup tight end whose locker is next to Finley's. "So I just told him, 'Just stay here, just lay here, don't move.'"
Finley was injured at the end of a 10-yard reception, when he took a hit to the head from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson. The game was delayed for six minutes while medical personnel attended to Finley.
"That look he had in his eyes, that was something that stuck with me," said Quarless, who said he shed a tear at the time. "It really hurt me just to see him like that. My brother was out there on the ground."
Gipson was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play. Referee Jeff Triplette said Gipson led with his helmet.
"[It was] all shoulder," Gipson said. "The crown of my head did not go down whatsoever. It was a shoulder hit. I don't know the place where it hit him exactly. I just know I saw him break out of the middle. He was running a slant. I'm driving on the ball. There's a collision, and he's down. I really haven't watched the play, so I can't really tell you what happened. I was just going out there playing physical."
McCarthy, offensive coordinator Tom Clements and several players said they did not think Gipson's hit was malicious.
"I don't think it was a dirty hit or anything," Packers left guard Josh Sitton said Monday. "It's one of those things that's tough. Two guys playing football. The safety's coming in there to make a tackle or knock the ball out. & Jermichael put his head down, bracing for the hit, and it's just one of those things that's going to happen in this game."
Finley finished with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay's 31-13 victory.
It was the second time this season that Finley has been knocked out of a game. In Week 3 at Cincinnati, he sustained a concussion after safety George Iloka hit him in the helmet. Iloka was not penalized on the play but was fined $15,000.
ESPN Senior NFL Insider Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com Packers reporter Rob Demovsky and ESPN.com Browns reporter Pat McManamon contributed to this report.