Category Archives: Jermichael Finley

23

July

Is Jarrett Boykin A Replacement Player?

Jarrett Boykin will be slotted into the coveted No. 3 wide receiver next season. He's ready because of one person.

Jarrett Boykin

Wide receivers are known as the “shiny hood ornament” of the NFL because largely their production is tied to their quarterbacks; even a wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson have had abysmal seasons with ineffectual quarterbacks behind center.  Furthermore, great/good wide receivers have left for greener pastures in free agency only to be met with an icy reception; Greg Jennings became the latest ex-Packer to move to Minneapolis and needless to say his production suffered when it was Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman throwing him the ball as opposed to Aaron Rodgers.

On the flip side, it almost seems like you can throw just about anybody into a jersey and make them a productive wide receiver if they are being fed the ball by Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady; wide receivers without enormous physical talent Wes Welker, Pierre Garcon and again Jennings have all had great careers even if they don’t look like Calvin Johnson.  Of course, it’s not like a wide receiver is nothing without his quarterback, the question is how much.

The receiver I was most interested in was Jarrett Boykin; an unheralded, undrafted wide receiver out of Virigina Tech who initially signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars only to be cut after a couple weeks.  After being picked up by the Packers, he was one of the surprise rookies to make the squad in 2012 with the likes of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings all on the roster.

I’ll be the first to say I didn’t notice his name on the transaction wire nor did I predict him to make the roster in 2012 (this was the year of the Torey Gurley vs. Diondre Borel debate) nor did I think he would he do much on the field, and needless to say I, along with just about everyone else was in for a pleasant surprise.  Now with two years under his belt, people are legitimately thinking of him as a viable #2/#3 receiver; he’s definitely not a #1 who can take the top off of a defense nor is he the shifty guy catches everything, but he’s a great role player who does everything good enough to contribute on a consistent basis.  Considering his rise from unknown prospect to perhaps one of the up and coming wide receivers, is this a product of good talent or a good quarterback?

---- Get AddToAny
2

July

What Packers Fans Should Know About Neck Injuries

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, Packer People, Packers players, Johnny Jolly, Packers character, Packers off the fieldAt this point, Packers fans are all too aware of neck/cervical injuries and the effects and repercussions of returning to play after an injury and surgery.  At this point, Ted Thompson has had likely six neck injuries and four surgeries, all with various results, some positive but mostly negative. The latest was defensive linemen Johnny Jolly, who after battling a prescription drug addiction was a surprising addition to the Packers roster last year.  News recently came out that Jolly has been cleared by his doctors to return to play and now the question is whether or not the Packers will take him up on that offer.  However, many fans don’t really know the diagnosis, treatment or outcome of neck injuries and surgeries and it’s important to really understand the injury before deciding whether or not Jolly should or could return to the Packers.  As a matter of disclosure, I am not a doctor but an immunologist, so while I do have plenty of experience in the medical field I am not qualified to present a medical opinion; below is research I have done from a variety of medical journals and other sources.

Packer players who suffered a neck injury under the Ted Thompson regime

1. Terrance Murphy: Murphy suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit by Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on a fumble recovery off of a return and was later discovered to have spinal stenosis, which ultimately ended his career.

2. Jeremy Thompson: Thompson suffered a neck injury during a practice after sustaining a collision with running back Kregg Lumpkin, who from reports suffered temporary paralysis on the field, necessitating the need for an ambulance and an overnight stay at Bellin Hospital.  Thompson subsequently also announced his retirement after the injury.  On a completely unrelated note, Thompson is now a medical student at the University of North Carolina, so the stereotype of football players being dumb jocks isn’t always true.

3. Nick Collins: Perhaps the most famous Packer to suffer a neck injury, Collins collided with Carolina running back Johnathan Stewart from above and suffered temporary paralysis. Collins spent the night at a hospital in Carolina before rejoining the team on IR.  Collins then had single fusion neck surgery to fuse the C3 and C4 vertebrae together.  Collins was subsequently released by the Packers and while he hasn’t officially retired, no team has been willing to even try him out, which indicates the severity of the injury.

28

June

Cory’s Corner: Colt Lyerla worth the risk for the Packers

We’ve officially reached the dead point of the Packers’ season.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as undrafted rookie. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as an undrafted rookie. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds in addition to a 39-inch vertical.

You won’t see oversized guys moving in fridges and TVs into St. Norbert College dorms until July 25, so this is when things start to slow down a bit.

But until that day approaches, one of the most important positions heading into next season is tight end. And with Jermichael Finley’s status still uncertain, despite his nameplate still being attached in the locker room, the that job looks to be wide open.

And the more I examine it, why can’t Oregon standout Colt Lyerla be the next sure-handed tight end target for the next generation? He’s got impressive raw ability, has a knack to get open, maintains soft hands which is helpful for tough grabs in traffic and at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, he has the frame that will keep on the field on running and passing downs.

Everyone knows that Lyerla left his Oregon teammates early last season and also pled guilty to cocaine. But during his two-and-a-half years in Eugene, he played for two head coaches, which isn’t exactly easy for any kid, let alone one that saw his parents divorce at age 9.

The Packers can give something that Lyerla has never had before or has never taken advantage of before: A proven, successful structure and an ear to listen. More than anything, Lyerla needs to be placed into a routine that works to give him confidence, which will earn him trust with Aaron Rodgers. And also he’s going to need to be able to find players on the team that will allow him to explain where he’s coming from, which will allow Lyerla to trust his teammates.

Lyerla has shown off his athleticism to the Packers this spring with amazing leaping catches that have even wowed some members of the defense. He’s got the ability. There’s no doubt about that, which is why he made The Play of the Week on SportsCenter in high school.

Amazingly enough, Lyerla is a lot like Finley when the Packers drafted him as a 21-year-old in 2008. Finley had plenty of physical attributes and filled up a scout’s notebook with superlatives, but he also publicly criticized one of the best Packers passers of all-time and didn’t accept his role on an offense that had lots of firepower.

27

June

Packers See Dramatic Turn at Tight End

Richard Rodgers

High expectations have been set for Rodgers in 2014. Is he the Packers next starting tight end?

At this time last season, the Green Bay Packers were preparing for training camp and the position battles that would ensue.  Tight end was not among them, as they had veteran Jermichael Finley in the fold and the annual talk about his having a “breakout” season was in full swing.

In 2012, Finley had just over 60 catches for two touchdowns.  Hardly the kind of numbers you would expect from a guy who was regularly hyped as a focal point in the Packers offense.

Through six games last season, Finley had 25 catches and three touchdowns.  He missed most of week three against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a concussion so those stats actually came in just five games.

Finley’s form seemed to look closer to the version we saw in 2009 versus that over the past three seasons.  He seemed primed to finally achieve the infamous “p” word that has followed him throughout his career:  potential.

That’s when catastrophe struck.  Mid-way through their week seven game against the Cleveland Browns, Finley took a shot from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson that left him motionless on the Lambeu Field turf.  Finley was taken off the field and immediately to a local medical center for evaluation of his spine.  His season was over and the Packers were facing a big loss at the tight end position.

Fast forward to today and we know that Finley has been medically cleared by the surgeon who performed the surgery to fuse his spine.  Still, Finley’s future remains a question mark, as no NFL team has cleared him to resume his career and he remains a free agent.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did speak about Finley during recent organized team activities (OTA’s) and, in essence, said that Finley is a free agent but that he sees him as a Packer and wishes him the best.  The known entity that was Finley surely still intrigues the Packers, but I’m one of those in the camp that doubt his return to the team.  Not this season or any, for that matter.

Under the assumption that Finley won’t be back, that leaves the Packers in the midst of their search for their next starting tight end.  With Finley, the Packers had a piece to their offense that they could feature and build quite a bit of the scheme around.  Behind Finley, that’s not so much the case.

15

June

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this week that the current group of Packers receivers could be the deepest he’s had.

Remember before the 2006 season when Brett Favre said that teat team was the most talented he’s been a part of and we all chuckled? We thought it was just Favre being Favre, talking out of his you know what and maybe even having a little fun with his buddies from the Super Bowl teams of the 1990s.

Well, after a year of seasoning, the Packers went to the NFC championship game. Favre saw something in that group a lot of us overlooked and that talent eventually emerged. We can debate whether Favre’s statement was accurate when it came out of his mouth, but it ended up being a lot more accurate than we thought it would be.

Now Rodgers is heaping praise on a receiving group that features two rookies, a guy coming off a broken leg, no proven tight end and Jarrett Boykin, who appeared dead in the water last season before doing a 180 and coming up big when the Packers needed him.

Is Rodgers going overboard with his proclamation of this group’s depth? Not necessarily.

Favre qualified his praise of the 2006 team by saying it was also the most unproven and inexperienced team he’s been a part of. Most people conveniently overlooked that part of the quote.

The key phrase in Rodgers’ recent praise for his receivers is “could be.”

If Rodgers would have continued talking on the subject, he would have continued by saying his receivers “could be” his deepest if:

  • Randall Cobb returns to his old self.
  • Jarrett Boykin takes another step.
  • Davante Adams is the real deal and fills James Jones’ shoes.
  • Jared Abbrederius proves he’s the fifth-round steal a lot of people think he was.
  • Jordy is Jordy.
  • A tight end emerges as a red-zone threat.
  • Someone we’ve never heard of plays well.

Rodgers probably didn’t feel the need to expand on the “could be” portion of his praise because he’s confident that if his collar bone stays in one piece, a lot of those “ifs” will disappear and “could be” will turn into reality.

Packers News, Notes and Links

7

June

Cory’s Corner: Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb?

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb has expiring contracts after this coming season. Given a choice, I would rather have Nelson.

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb has expiring contracts after this coming season. 

This is a debate you will not see Aaron Rodgers commenting on.

The one deciding between his favorite targets: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. It’s like a parent trying to pick their favorite child.

Nelson is heading into the final year of his team-friendly, three-year $12.6 million deal – a contract that made him just the 27th-highest paid receiver. The six-year pro finished last season with career highs in receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,314). He is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the league, making those tiptoe, sideline grabs look second nature.

Nelson made his case for big money stronger last season on the field, while Cobb and Jermichael Finley were hurt. Defenses were zeroed in on stopping the 6-foot-3 wideout and couldn’t do it.

Cobb, on the other hand, is one of the most dynamic players in the game. He’s right up there with the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy in that category based solely on versatility. His four-year, $3.209 million rookie deal from 2011 obviously needs to be sweetened. What helps Cobb, despite last season’s injury, he has proven his durability.

He played in 15 games his first two years in the league, before being limited to six games because of a fractured right fibula last season. The 23-year-old came back strong in the regular-season finale and the playoff game against San Francisco.

According to overthecap.com, the Packers have an estimated $13.9 million of cap space for 2014. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, the Green Bay would like to lock up at least one of the receivers before the start of the season.

But who?

Judging from the career arc Nelson has taken from year four to year six, Green Bay needs to place a priority on Nelson.

There will likely be comparisons to Greg Jennings, the most recent Green Bay receiver to hit the open market. The biggest difference between the two, however, is that Jennings’ last season with the Packers was as a declining injury-prone 29-year-old, not an ascending 28 year-old.

It could also be argued that Cobb is still trying to find his niche on the team. In 2012, he had 10 carries for 132 yards in addition to fielding 31 punts and 38 kickoffs. He wears so many hats for the Packers, his potential as a true No. 1 receiver are yet to be seen.

31

May

Cory’s Corner: Jermichael Finley’s future is not as a Packer

Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.

Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.

Perhaps the news that Jermichael Finley has been medically cleared is a clear vision of great things to come.

But the moment I heard the news, I merely shrugged my shoulders.

It’s great that Finley, an athletic marvel at the tight end position, was able to get his C3 and C4 vertebrates fused. I was one of the guys that thought he would never play again.

But now that he’s cleared, his future is not in Green Bay. First of all, I am not sure what kind of coin his agent Blake Baratz is going to command. But remember, Finley is coming off his two-year $14-million prove-it deal and especially after a bruised spinal cord, the 27-year-old will be looking for some security.

The Packers most definitely have a need at tight end. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick haven’t been able to prove their worth consistently. Green Bay even rolled the dice with troubled Oregon star Colt Lyerla, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

Secondly, before the injury, the Packers brass may have been pondering if it was worth it to keep Finley around. Finley was able to bring many double-teams to the middle of the field which gave guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones one-on-one battles which they often won. However, when Finley was called upon to come up with a drive-extending grab on third down or a critical goal line catch, his hands frequently betrayed him.

But that’s not even the worst. His blocking skills were always something of a head scratcher. He was clearly motivated to run routes, catch passes and score touchdowns. He isn’t exactly wired to be a hard-charging blocker when the offense needs to salt the game away. And that’s why the Packers have kept four tight ends, an unheard of number, since 2010. Someone else must pick up the little things that he cannot or refuses to do.

Finally, just because the doctor that performed the procedure has medically cleared Finley doesn’t mean that team doctors won’t have questions and raise red flags. Finley still has to prove that he is not only capable of playing at his pre-injury level but he also must prove that he has the strong psyche to understand that teams, like it or not, will now be targeting his neck.