Finley Needs Neck Surgery

Nick Mensio
Nick Mensio keeps a running list of the top free agents available around the league this summer and during the 2014 season

2014 NFL Free Agents

Nick Mensio keeps a running list of the top free agents available around the league this summer and during the 2014 season

In Week 7, Jermichael Finley took a vicious shoulder-to-helmet hit from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson. It was deemed a legal hit by the NFL. Finley, however, needed to be stretchered off the field as a few of his teammates were visibly shaken up and shed tears. Finley spent upwards of 24 hours in the intensive care unit at a local hospital. After he was released, Finley began seeking various medical opinions from spine and neck specialists all across the country. He was placed on injured reserve on November 5. On Wednesday, Finley’s agent, Blake Baratz, released a statement that said Finley has decided to undergo spinal fusion surgery:

“Regarding Jermichael’s specific injury, it is important to note that expert opinions differ across the board, from surgical procedures to rehabilitation methods to returning to contact sports. Working alongside the Packers organization, we have discussed and analyzed all of these opinions, as well as all of the potential scenarios moving forward. We have collectively determined that while surgery may not be 100% necessary, it is a proactive measure that should alleviate future risks with regards to a similar episode or re-injury. Jermichael has elected to undergo a spinal fusion with Dr. Joseph Maroon, the Pittsburgh Steelers team Neurosurgeon. Dr. Maroon is experienced in conducting this type of procedure on professional athletes in contact sports, and is confident that Jermichael will fully recover following the procedure. Once surgery has been completed, Jermichael has every intention of resuming his football career, and we fully support his efforts to do so.”

Football doesn’t matter right now for Finley. His ability to live a long, normal life with his family is the main objective of this procedure. Finley’s ex-teammate safety Nick Collins underwent spinal fusion surgery in September 2011 after he injured his neck. Collins couldn’t find a doctor to clear him. He was then forced to retire after the Packers released him in April 2012. Finley’s contract is up after the season. He’ll face a long road back to the NFL, but it’s one he intends to travel. We wish him the best of luck.

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News Nugget #2

Steven Jackson has averaged just 11 carries per game in three games since returning from a Week 2 hamstring injury. Even worse, he’s averaged just 2.24 YPC on those 33 attempts. Running stiff, slow, and upright, Jackson has just been slamming himself into defensive lines repeatedly. The Atlanta offensive line is one of the worst groups in the league, which has led to suggestions the Falcons should turn their backfield into a committee and get speedy Jacquizz Rodgers more involved. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter apparently doesn’t see it that way. He recently said that the team would like to increase 30-year-old plodding Jackson’s workload moving forward.

"My opinion is Steven Jackson is a workhorse running back and we haven't been able to work him," Koetter said. "I mean, I think Steven is one of those guys that gets better the more he touches it. … Because we're not doing anything successfully right now and we're getting behind on the scoreboard, [the running game] sometimes gets away from us."

Jackson’s season-high for carries in a game is 13. We’d be surprised if he topped 15-18 in a game this season. Jackson has a tough Week 11 matchup on deck with the Bucs’ fifth-ranked run defense. He’ll be nothing more than a low-end flex option. Jackson is even approaching droppable status in shallow re-draft leagues. Heck, he may even be there already.

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News Nugget #3

Appearing on his radio show Tuesday, Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) suggested his goal is to return for Week 12. That would be 20 days after he suffered a small fracture. All coach Mike McCarthy has let on is that Rodgers is a “couple weeks away.” The Week 13 game against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day seems a more realistic target date. Rodgers needs to be stashed in all leagues as an injured QB2. Scott Tolzien will start for the Packers this week against the Giants.

Vernon Davis (concussion) has been cleared for non-contact work and was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. He called his latest concussion a “mild” one. Coach Jim Harbaugh later said Davis isn’t suffering from any concussion symptoms. Davis appears right on track to play Sunday against the Saints. He’s locked in as a TE1.

Peyton Manning (ankle) sat out practice Wednesday, as expected. He hopes to return to the field Thursday. Even if he doesn’t, you can count on Manning starting against the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football this week.

Tony Gonzalez was seen hobbling around the locker room following last week’s loss to the Seahawks. Coach Mike Smith refused to update Gonzalez’s status Monday. All we know right now is that the tight end has a toe injury and missed practice Wednesday. Consider Gonzalez 50-50 for Week 11 until we figure out more as the week rolls on.

Terrelle Pryor (knee) watched practice from the sideline Wednesday. He’s battling a sprained right MCL and requested a day of rest. Neither the Raiders nor Pryor were giving anything away Wednesday, simply saying they’ll “see how he’s feeling as the week goes on.” Pryor will likely have to practice at least one day this week to have a chance to play Sunday against Houston. Matt McGloin is his backup.

Quarterback/Running Back Slants

Christian Ponder (shoulder) practiced as the first-team quarterback Wednesday, suggesting he’ll start this week against Seattle. … Jason Campbell says his injured ribs feel fine. He’s practicing in full and will be a mid-to-low QB2 this week. … Marshawn Lynch (knee) was limited on Wednesday. There’s nothing to see here. … Ryan Mathews (hamstring) is practicing in full this week. … Ben Tate (ribs) was limited once again. It’s become the norm for Tate. … Darren McFadden (hamstring) remained sidelined at practice Wednesday. … Brandon Jacobs (knee) remains sidelined.

Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants

Nate Burleson (arm) doesn’t plan to rush back to game action. … Percy Harvin (hip) was limited on Wednesday. … Vincent Jackson (hamstring) was limited Wednesday. He has a juicy matchup with the Falcons on tap. … The Chiefs claimed Kyle Williams off waivers from the 49ers. He’ll be nothing more than the No. 4 receiver. … Cecil Shorts (groin) and Mike Brown (ankle) were limited Wednesday. Shorts expects to be shadowed by Patrick Peterson this week. … Robert Woods (ankle) will not play Sunday, while Stevie Johnson’s (groin) status remains up in the air. … Michael Floyd (sprained shoulder) did not practice and is day-to-day. … Jerome Simpson is expected to play this week, despite his DWI arrest over the weekend. … Calvin Johnson (knee, rest) did not practice Wednesday. … Miles Austin (hamstring) ran some routes Wednesday before the Cowboys took off for the bye week. … Roddy White is now battling a shoulder injury. He was limited on Wednesday but should be fine. … Coach Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t rule out Michael Crabtree (Achilles’, PUP) returning to the lineup in Week 11, though it’s highly unlikely. … Jimmy Graham (foot, elbow) was limited in Wednesday’s practice. … Julius Thomas (ankle) is practicing in full this week. … Jeff Cumberland (concussion) returned to a full practice. … Jermaine Gresham (groin) is practicing in full this week after being inactive last Sunday.

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