McCarthy says Finley still not cleared to play

Updated: March 26, 2014, 11:35 AM ET

Rob Demovsky |

At last month’s NFL scouting combine, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke optimistically about tight end Jermichael Finley’s chances for a comeback from his neck injury.
A month later, McCarthy seemed to be hedging his bets.

Speaking to reporters in Orlando, Fla., during Wednesday’s NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meetings, McCarthy said Finley has not been medically cleared to resume playing. This comes a week after the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that Finley failed his physical during a free-agent visit with the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month.
Finley has been working out with his regular trainers in Minnesota and Arizona for most of the offseason.
“He’s going through his medical situation,” McCarthy said. “He had a serious injury. I know there is a lot of excitement, based on what I’ve been told. I haven’t seen him work out, but I guess his workouts have gone really well. He’s in great shape. I know he feels good. The reality is this injury is going to take some time. We’ll continue to watch it.”
Finley is 4½ months removed from single fusion surgery to the C-3/C-4 vertebra after he sustained a season-ending neck injury on Oct. 20 against the Cleveland Browns. The injury left Finley momentarily motionless on the field, and he spent four days in an area hospital recovering from a spinal cord contusion.
It’s the same fusion surgery that former Packers safety Nick Collins underwent in 2011. The Packers’ doctors never cleared Collins to return, and he hasn’t played since.
Complicating matters is that Finley was in the final year of a two-year, $14 million contract.
When asked whether the Packers would want him back, McCarthy said: “Absolutely.”
“To be medically cleared is something he’ll go through with the doctors,” McCarthy said. “That hasn’t happened yet.”
Finley was supposed to visit his surgeon, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team physician Dr. Joseph Maroon, on March 11, expecting to be medically cleared.
Finley’s agent, Blake Baratz, told reporters at the Super Bowl that Maroon told him there’s a “99.9 percent chance” that the fusion surgery will heal fully and once that happens, Finley will be cleared to play. Baratz has not returned multiple messages seeking comment about Finley’s status.
ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this report from Orlando, Fla.
Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association

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