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Notebook: Building On Success Next Step For Finley


Head Coach Mike McCarthy often talks about how the biggest jump players take in their development comes from their first season to their second season, and tight end Jermichael Finley was a prime example of that in 2009.

With 55 receptions for 676 yards (12.3 avg.) in his second season, Finley fell just one catch shy of Paul Coffman's (1979) franchise record for most catches by a tight end despite missing three games and most of a fourth due to a knee injury sustained at Cleveland in Week 7. He posted eight 50-yard receiving games, a team record for tight ends.

That followed a rookie campaign in '08 that saw Finley catch just six passes for 74 yards (12.3 avg.) and a touchdown in 14 games played. He did come on strong late in the year, hauling in three passes for 64 yards (21.3 avg.) and a score in the final two contests.

After returning from the knee injury in Week 11, Finley ranked third in the league among tight ends with 37 catches over that span, trailing only Dallas' Jason Witten (45) and Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez (39).

That production in his sophomore campaign came with the soon-to-be 23-year-old Finley sharing snaps with veteran Donald Lee, so McCarthy is looking for even more from Finley this season.

"He is one of those classic talented players, perimeter players, that came in and exploded on the scene as a situational player, and that happens," McCarthy said. "Now his next big step that he has to overcome is can he be an every-down player? Can he be a starter and play 55-60 plays as opposed to playing 40? That's his next step.

"If he can do that at the level that he played at as a situational player, I think we've got a chance, we may have an All-Pro tight end."

But as with any young player, how Finley handles the success he had last season will factor into his ability to build on that moving forward.

"Jermichael in particular loves football," McCarthy said. "He loves the working out, the drill work, the one-on-one coaching. He has a very close relationship with (tight ends coach) Ben McAdoo. You can't get enough of him. He is at work and he's got a big smile on his face.

"It's like a lot of guys, you kind of worry about them once they leave the building. It's just all part of growing up and handling success. I think success is the biggest challenge that players have to handle in the National Football League. That's something that we talk about a lot."

Injury updates

McCarthy said veteran cornerback Al Harris, who sustained a season-ending ACL injury in Week 11 last season, is rehabilitating his knee down in Florida and making progress.

"He'll be coming up; I don't have the exact date as far as checking in with (Dr.) Pat (McKenzie)," McCarthy said. "I talked to Al probably seven, eight, nine days ago. It's a significant injury. He's in a very positive mindset right now, which is good to see. He struggled there. That was a serious injury and his first couple of weeks were tough. He had to go in and get the adjustment. Pat had to take him in twice and try to get the full range of motion in his knee.

"He's doing movement drills. He feels like he is really making progress and we'll just continue to watch that and see how he responds."

Even though Harris suffered the injury in the latter part of the season, McCarthy wouldn't rule him out for the beginning of the 2010 campaign.

"I wouldn't bet against Al," McCarthy said. "It's like anything, you can't ever just put a timetable on a knee injury because they are all a little different. His was significant, just using Pat McKenzie's words."

McCarthy said defensive end Justin Harrell, who spent all of last season on injured reserve due to a back injury after being limited to just six games in '08 with a similar injury, is doing well in the team's offseason program.

"I don't think you can really evaluate him until he gets out there and puts the pads on and torques," McCarthy said. "The d-line is different, but he looks really good. I know (defensive line coach) Mike Trgovac really liked what he saw last year in the spring.

"I know (strength coaches) Dave Redding and Mark Lovat feel good about where he is at in the weight room compared to where he was this time last year, clearly. So he has made progress, but until he gets in there and you see him torque and play with leverage, that's when the lower back will be tested."

McCarthy said he has spoken to tight end Spencer Havner, who sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident in California earlier this month.

"Really, I was checking on him physically at that time," McCarthy said. "That's really all I have to report. We're watching it, his situation. I think Spencer is a quality person. I think he's a good kid. I just think he made a bad mistake.

"Without our doctors laying their hands on him, I would just guess based on my conversation with him, (he'll be out) four-to-six weeks."

Schedule change

Green Bay's mandatory mini-camp, scheduled for June 21-23, will feature a different format than past years under McCarthy.

In previous seasons, the team practiced twice a day the first two days of mini-camp before wrapping up with one session on the final day. This year, the Packers will use the once-a-day format throughout the three-day camp.

"That is one of the times last year where I felt like we were falling into the category of we were probably doing a little too much," McCarthy said. "I know the whole time I have been in the league, you always traditionally went two-a-days during mini-camp. I just feel that the work we are getting done in May and June that our mini-camp will be very similar to our OTAs.

{sportsad300}"I want to use the mini-camp frankly just to, if there is anything that we feel we need to go back and do that we didn't get done in the OTAs, that's what the mini-camp is going to be for."

One aspect of the schedule McCarthy wouldn't mind seeing repeat last year's format is the preseason slate, when the Packers' first two games both fell on a Saturday.

"I'm just hopeful that the first two weeks are Saturday and Saturday because that is so helpful," McCarthy said. "It's not the end of the world, but it really helps you in training camp if you can keep that Family Night (scrimmage) and those first two games (all on Saturdays), because the quality of work and the rest and recovery built in there, it really helps you."

More change on the way?

During his press conference Wednesday to close the league meetings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is still exploring ways to discourage playoff teams from resting their starters at the end of the regular season.

"One of the key things we are doing in the short term is in our scheduling," Goodell said. "We are trying to schedule it so that potentially Week 17 will be all division opponents and maybe even a large part of Week 16 games.

"We think that will address this to some extent. It will not necessarily eliminate the issue but the Competition Committee knows, and I've stressed to them, that we need to continue to look at this because it's important for the quality of what we do and for the integrity of our game."

The full NFL schedule is expected to be announced in mid-April.

Goodell also said that he thinks the overtime rule change approved on Tuesday will be expanded to cover regular-season games as well.

"I think what we'd like to do is continue to analyze it and go back and talk to our players about it also and we'll discuss it again," Goodell said. "There is the potential it will come up. There was a strong consensus for expanding it into the regular season."

Draft order set

With 32 compensatory picks awarded by the league on Monday, the NFL announced the complete draft order for the 2010 NFL Draft on Wednesday.

The Packers will have eight picks in the draft, including the No. 23 choice overall. Green Bay will have one selection in every round except for the fifth, where they have two picks because of a compensatory choice (No. 169) awarded on Monday.

The draft is moving to a three-day format this year, with the first round starting on Thursday, April 22, at 6:30 p.m. CT. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday, April 23, at 5:00 p.m., with rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 24, at 9:00 a.m.

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