Ex-teammate says Finley will play again

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers tight end Brandon Bostick has little doubt in his mind that Jermichael Finley will play in the NFL again.

He just doesn't know whether it will be for the Packers.

Bostick, perhaps Finley's closest friend among his former Packers teammates, has been in regular contact with Finley. Bostick spoke with Finley as recently as Wednesday, when Finley had a checkup with the Packers' medical staff, and was elated to hear on Thursday that Finley had reportedly been cleared by the surgeon -- Dr. Joseph Maroon -- who performed the neck fusion surgery Finley underwent last November.

Finley’s agent, Blake Baratz, did not return messages left on Thursday, but he told Pro Football Talk that Maroon has given Finley "full medical clearance."

"He just told me he's trying to get healthy, and then this came out today," Bostick said. "I'm just proud of him. It's been a long wait for him. Now he's just trying to get in somewhere. I think he'll be back. I don't know what team or if it will be here.”

Finley's meeting with the Packers on Wednesday did not include full-blown tests on his neck. Rather, it was just to check in with the team doctors because he had not seen them in a while. Until Finley receives clearance from the Packers, they won't begin any discussions about a possible return. The Packers would not clear former safety Nick Collins, who like Finley had his C-3 and C-4 vertebrae fused following a neck injury in 2011. Collins has not played in the NFL since.

"It's up to our medical staff," Packers tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. "Those are the guys that we trust and we listen to."

As a free agent, Finley is free to have other teams put him through medical exams.

"As far as Jermichael personally, I know he was in town," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I did not personally see him. I have not had any recent conversations with our medical staff about him. My understanding is he's in great shape, and he's doing everything he can."

Fontenot also has kept in contact with Finley but, like McCarthy, did not see him during his most recent visit.

"Nothing would please me more than to be able to welcome Jermichael Finley as a member of the Green Bay Packers again," Fontenot said. "Again, that's a decision that unfortunately isn't going to be made by any coaching staffs. It's going to be a medical decision, ultimately. So whatever they say, we move with. Sure, I'd love to see him back but not at the expense of him possibly further injuring himself."