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Tuesday, August 26, 2008 3:01:33 PM(UTC)
Jermichael Finley and Jeremy Thompson two relatively high draft picks came to the Green Bay Packers in April at positions with ample room to make an immediate impact.[img_r]http://cmsimg.greenbaypressgazette.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=U0&Date=20080825&Category=PKR01&ArtNo=80825151&Ref=V2&Profile=1058&MaxW=318&Border=0[/img_r]
Unless they make giant gains in the final week of the preseason, it doesnt look like either one will be impact players when the season opens on Sept. 8 against the Minnesota Vikings.
One or both could make strides during the season and become regular contributors, but at this point their contributions seem likely to be minimal.
Finley, a third-round draft pick (No. 91 overall) from Texas, looks like the No. 3 tight end at best. He played behind starter Donald Lee and third-year pro Tory Humphrey in last Fridays preseason game at Denver.
Some days in practice, it has been difficult to tell whether Finley is ahead of fellow rookie Joey Haynos, an undrafted free agent from Maryland.
When the light bulb does go on, you never know, tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said. But youre going to get that light bulb on. When it does click on, you work on refining the skills. Thats where were at. Were plugging away. Im not concerned about playing time or anything. Im concerned about getting better each day.
Thompson, a fourth-round pick (No. 102 overall) from Wake Forest, looks like the No. 6 defensive end at best behind starters Cullen Jenkins and Aaron Kampman, pass-rush specialist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Michael Montgomery and Jason Hunter. Last season, Montgomery and Hunter made little impact.[img_r]http://cmsimg.greenbaypressgazette.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=U0&Date=20080825&Category=PKR01&ArtNo=80825151&Ref=AR&Profile=1058&MaxW=318&Border=0[/img_r]
Last season, the Packers only carried five defensive ends so theres a chance that Thompson, as the sixth defensive end, could be an early-season inactive even though he is on the No. 1 punt return team.
Im not sure about that yet, defensive ends coach Carl Hairston said. Weve got another couple of weeks to go before the season opener, and you never know what could happen. (Thompson) might find himself and turn it on. Hes got the ability to do that.
For Finley, the strides need to come at the line of scrimmage, where he has struggled as a blocker. His ability to catch passes he posted 76 receptions, a 12.8-yard average and five touchdowns in two seasons at Texas has never been in question. In limited snaps in the first three preseason games, he has three catches for 27 yards. In practice, he has displayed good hands.
The catching part is there, Finley said. Im just trying to get my weight up and maintain my weight so I can handle these big defensive ends Im going against.
Thats where Finley has struggled. At 250 pounds, the 6-foot-5 Finley feels like he needs to bulk up in order to be an effective blocker. He has added 10 pounds since he reported for training camp in late July and wants to get up to 260. In coach Mike McCarthys zone-blocking scheme, the tight end is at times charged with sealing off or cut blocking much larger defensive ends.
Finley missed a key block against the Broncos on a second-and-goal play from the 1-yard line in the third quarter. Out of a three-tight-end formation, Finley showed poor technique and missed a block that played a part in running back Brandon Jackson being stopped for no gain.
My feet and my hand placement were wrong, Finley said of that play. So the guy shot inside of me.
Asked how far away he is from being where he wants to be as a blocker, Finley said: Im pretty far away.
Ive made a lot of progress blocking, for sure, he added. The passing game is going to be there, but every day Ive practiced blocking to get my pad level down. Im 6-5, so Ive got to get down low. Thats where I think Ive made the most progress.
With Thompson, the problem has been inconsistency, and thinking too much, according to Hairston.
Mondays one-on-one pass rushing drill was a perfect example. He took two reps and lost them both. On the first, fellow rookie Breno Giacomini used his strength to push Thompson to the ground. On the second, against left tackle Daryn Colledge, Thompson danced too much and by the time he made his move, Colledge had grabbed onto him.
In college, those (offensive linemen) are not as fine tuned as these guys are, Hairston said. So hes got to learn how to study guys. Its just going to take a little time.
Hairston feels Thompson has the tools to be an effective pass rusher because of his speed and massive wingspan yet also can be strong at the point of attack against the run. But Thompson knows hes not there yet. He wants to add 10 pounds to his 6-4 frame and play at about 270 pounds.
Im preparing like Ill have a chance (to play this season), but were so deep at the ends that theres kind of the realization that I wont have the reps that I want to, Thompson said.
But Im still going to work hard. Im still going to contribute on special teams, and its going to be a learning process regardless of whether Im playing a lot or not playing a lot.
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