Tuned-down Finley focusing on football

Jul. 31, 2013

Jermichael Finley never had any doubt about the Green Bay Packers taking him back for a sixth NFL season. In fact, its something he never really thought about it.

With a $3 million March roster bonus triggering an $8.25 million 2013 salary, however, the Packers were forced to think long and hard on if the talented, but at times outspoken and erratic, tight end was worth the investment or the trouble.

Midnight eventually passed with general manager Ted Thompson deciding to take one more turn on the Finley carousel and the final year of the two-year, $14 million deal he signed with the team in February 2012.

Since returning for organized team activities, the 6-foot-4, 252-pound tight end has been on a mission to show consistency and controversy wont be a problem.

In the locker room, the proclamations about the year of the takeover have passed. Standing before a group of collected media on Wednesday, the era of political correctness was present.

It just happened. Im not trying to do it, said Finley of his tuned-down antics. Its not something thats on my mind every day. Just getting better every day, man. Just doing what Im supposed to do. Doing it the right way.

Finley teased a similar act last season amidst his early-season slump. It lasted about a week before the 26-year-old tight end turned his outspokenness back on.

Eventually, his play returned to form, as well. After dropping seven passes in his first eight games, Finley dropped only two over the final 10 games of the season and broke Paul Coffman's 33-year-old franchise record for single-season catches for a tight end with 61.

The reliability and consistency was the Finley the Packers have been hoping to see since his breakthrough sophomore season in 2009. To get back to that level, Finley added about 10 pounds back onto his frame after shedding weight coming into camp last season.

"Hes not in the media every day, thats a good thing that was a joke, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. Hes stronger, hes back to the Jermichael Finley of 2000 what, I guess it would be 09 or 10. Hes where he needs to be. Hes in a very good place. I think hes having a heck of a camp.

So has Finley turned over a new leaf? Maybe, but he has no plans of adding any fuel to the fire.

At least for now.

When Im out on the field, I talk when Im supposed to talk at, Finley said. Here, Im just doing the right things, doing what Im supposed to do and doing it the right way.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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