No Surpirse Here: Jermichael Finley Named Packers' Starting Tight End

M. S.Correspondent IMarch 1, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03:  Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 celebrate after Finley catches a five-yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the third quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy announced Sunday that budding star Jermichael Finley would be the team's starting tight end entering the 2010 season.

It should come as no surprise to Packers' fans that Finley, who really broke out as the team's go-to target down the middle of the field, was going to be the starter, taking over for Donald Lee, who had started the last five seasons in Green Bay.

While Lee did an above-average job as the team's tight end, filling in as a solid blocker and good receiver as a check-down option, it was clear his time was running out.

Lee will be 30 years old once the season begins and will remain on the roster as a back-up tight end and special teams player, but Finley is the new go-to guy in Green Bay.

In 2009, Finley caught 55 passes for 676 yards and five touchdowns and really turned up his play toward the later part of the season, finishing with at least three receptions in the team's last seven games and busting out for 159 yards in the team's playoff loss to Arizona.

Tight end had been more of a check-down position for the Packers for years, and one of the deepest wide receiver corps in the league only added to that marginal production.

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However, the Packers feel they have a true home run threat who can really stretch the field in Finley, and he could arguably become the team's second option on offense next season.

Finley is a true matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, stretching the field against linebackers and winning jump-balls against cornerbacks. According to, Finley's last seven games put him on pace for 87 receptions, 951 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Those numbers all seem reasonable for Finley, who will be just 23 years old when the season begins. He was a favorite target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers last season, and for good reason.

Lee will take a backseat role on offense and the fan-favorite Spencer Havner will also get some looks on offense, but it's clear who the main man is at the tight end position.

The Packers are not expected to make many shake-ups in terms of skill position players on offense during the draft outside of running back, making Finley's probability for an increase in production that much more likely.

Everyone knew this decision was coming, and McCarthy didn't really need to come out and say it, but that vote of confidence is even more evidence that the Packers will make Finley a huge part of the offense in 2010.