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Notebook: Finley Ready For First Action

With Tory Humphrey’s uncertain status for Sunday’s game due to a knee injury, rookie No. 3 tight end Jermichael Finley is likely to be on the active 45-man roster for the first time in his career, against his hometown team, no less. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 18

With Tory Humphrey's uncertain status for Sunday's game due to a knee injury, rookie No. 3 tight end Jermichael Finley is likely to be on the active 45-man roster for the first time in his career, against his hometown team, no less.

Finley, a native of Texas whose residence is in Dallas, was the Packers' third-round draft choice this past April. Having spent just three years in college, one as a redshirt, he came to Green Bay as a raw prospect with great ball skills but needing to refine his blocking.

He's made notable progress in that area and can't wait to get on the field for the first time as an NFL player on Sunday night against the Cowboys.

"I'm not a finished project," said Finley, who has been among the eight gameday inactives in the first two weeks of the season. "You just go out, keep grinding it out and get better and better. You have no choice but to block good if you're going against Aaron Kampman every day. It's going to be a good opportunity to show what I can do."

Humphrey, the No. 2 tight end behind starter Donald Lee, played through a knee sprain last Sunday, but the knee swelled up after the game. He's scheduled to practice for the first time this week on Friday.

Fullback Korey Hall is on the same schedule, and if Hall is unable to play, it will put added importance on Finley being able to contribute on special teams.

"I think this is a great opportunity for Jermichael," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's had an excellent week of practice so far. He's really taken on the challenge, and like I tell the whole team, the guys that are not up, it's not more about the position they play, it's more about the special teams.

"He needs to continue to improve in that area, and he's doing a good job of that. It's something that's very new for him."

Feeling better

Center Scott Wells went from a limited participant in practice Wednesday to a full participant Thursday and says he's hoping and praying his back injury, which he described as a pinched nerve, is behind him.

Wells has been injured off and on since the spring, and he re-aggravated the back injury in the second preseason game at San Francisco and hasn't played since. Now that he's back at practice, he's not sure whether he'll be immediately reinserted as the starting center on Sunday, but he says he's ready if the coaches want to go that direction.

"I always prepare to play, to start, and the decision will be made by the coach," Wells said. "I know they're going to evaluate how I did these past two days, and it's up to them. I feel good, so I'll be available, whatever they decide."

Wells said the biggest trouble in treating his injury has been locating the affected nerve, but since it was targeted he has steadily progressed in his recovery.

"You have to locate where it is and where to treat it," Wells said. "Your back is pretty complex, so if you hit the wrong one when you're treating, then you really didn't do anything to the problem. So it was kind of hit-or-miss for a while, and now we think we've figured out where it is and treated the problem."

Even if Wells isn't starting on Sunday, he almost certainly will be active as a backup lineman. He admitted that even though the competitor in him wanted to play the last two weeks, his body wasn't physically ready.

That said, Wells believes the adjustment to playing again will be minimal.

"There's two ways to look at it," Wells said. "One, you could say either he's going to be rusty, or two, he's going to be fresh.

"I say I'm fresh. Practice is to get the rust out. There may be some rust early on in the game, we have an excellent opponent, but I think that should get knocked off early once you get into it."

{sportsad300}More on injuries

Like Wells, guard Josh Sitton (knee) went from a limited to a full participant in practice on Thursday. McCarthy indicated earlier in the week he wasn't as close to playing as Wells, however.

Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) was a full participant on Wednesday but was limited on Thursday.

The rest of Green Bay's injury report remained the same as Wednesday, with safety Atari Bigby, Hall, Humphrey and cornerback Charles Woodson not participating, though Woodson is expected to play. Tackle Chad Clifton (knees) and running back Ryan Grant (hamstring) remained limited participants, with Grant expected to participate fully on Friday.

Wide receiver Ruvell Martin (finger) was a full participant for the second straight day.

Key stretch

Now that the Packers have two NFC North Division contests in the books, their next six games are all against non-division foes. Five of them, however, are against teams that made the playoffs a year ago, making this perhaps the toughest stretch of the schedule for 2008.

After playing Dallas on Sunday, the Packers will play road games against '07 playoff entrants Tampa Bay (Sept. 28), Seattle (Oct. 12) and Tennessee (Nov. 2, after the bye), plus home games against defending AFC South champion Indianapolis (Oct. 19) and Atlanta (Oct. 5, the only non-playoff team in this stretch), before resuming division play with games against the Vikings and Bears in Weeks 10-11.

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