Finley is growing in Rodgers' eyes

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Maybe it’s just a quarterback trying to build the confidence of one his top targets, but just about every time Aaron Rodgers holds court in front of his locker, he has something good to say about tight end Jermichael Finley.

And almost all of it has been unprompted.

For example, during Wednesday’s session with reporters, Rodgers was in the middle of answering a question about his own play when he brought up Finley.

“I think a guy like Jermichael Finley’s had an excellent camp,” Rodgers said. “It’s fun to watch him make some of the plays that he wasn’t making three or four years ago as far as being able to read a defense quickly and diagnosis it and get into his route. He’s been very consistent for us, and he’s been able to stay healthy.”

One week earlier, Rodgers said something similar about Finley.

“I’ve been really impressed with Jermichael,” Rodgers said at the time. “I think he’s had an excellent camp. He’s been running his routes well. Something clicked last year midseason, and he really started to take off, and it’s carried over this spring. He got himself in unbelievable shape, and he’s come in and been dominating out there. I’m really proud of him and the steps he’s made.”

Rodgers and Finley haven’t always had the best relationship – remember how often Finley talked in 2011 and 2012 about not having good chemistry with the quarterback? Perhaps this is Rodgers’ way of extending an olive branch to the ultra-athletic but inconsistent tight end.

Whatever the reason, Rodgers has been looking Finley’s way more often on the practice field. After a slow start to camp, Finley caught fire this week. On Monday, he made a twisting 15-yard touchdown catch on a seam route against tight coverage from linebacker Sam Barrington. On Wednesday, he opened the no-huddle period with back-to-back catches of 18 and 12 yards.

Finley hasn’t been perfect. Earlier in Wednesday’s practice, he dropped a catchable ball on a crossing pattern. But with Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (biceps) sidelined because of injuries, Rodgers knows he needs Finley now more than ever, which could be why he’s giving him props every chance he gets.

For his part, Finley appears to be handling this season in a different manner. He’s rarely in the locker room when it’s open to reporters. He used to sit at his locker and welcome any and every opportunity to talk (hence the repeated references to a lack of chemistry with Rodgers). For now, he has stuck to his mantra of “just doing what I’m supposed to do [and] doing it the right way.”