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Packers TE Finley says Gronkowski, Graham have to show him something in 2012

Packers TE Finley says Gronkowski, Graham have to show him something in 2012

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
Finley is like Missouri: You have to show him. (US PRESSWIRE)

Jermichael Finley is considered one of the league's most athletic tight ends. His 2011 season (55 receptions, 767 yards, 8 touchdowns) was good for fifth among all tight ends according to FootballOutsiders.com's metrics, and for his troubles he was rewarded with a two-year deal worth almost $15 million.

Just 25, Finley has been in the NFL since 2008, two years longer than the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski and the Saints' Jimmy Graham, the other young tight ends first cited whenever the conversation turns to the evolution of a position historically reserved for glorified linemen.

Following's Wednesday's practice, Finley was asked about the aforementioned tight ends.

“I know Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) and Jimmy Graham, they did well last year," he told ESPN Milwaukee. "But in this league, you've got to do it consistently. If you've shown that you can do it one time, you have to come back and do it. They're going to have to show me something. I'm not trying to beat them or see what I can do better than them, but they're going to have to show me a little more.”

To paraphrase: Finley is like Missouri: he's the Show-Me State.

We don't have any issue with Finley's comments. It just might rub some people the wrong way because Finley -- a fellow tight end -- is the one making them. Truth is: he's right. If Gronkowski or Graham play poorly in 2012 we'll all be talking about how teams have overvalued the tight end position.

But if 2011 is any indication, both players will be fine. FootballOutsiders.com ranked Gronk No. 1 and Graham No. 2 at the position, and since coming into the league in 2010, the two rank fifth and sixth among tight ends in receptions (132 and 130, respectively). Finley, who only played in five games in '10, is 25th, behind Jeremy Shockey and Fred Davis.

The Packers' tight end admits that he played like a robot at times last season and part of that had to do with the lockout, which meant no offseason program. “I couldn't get the chemistry with the QB," he said.

Now healthy, under contract until 2013, and with minicamps and OTAs in full effect, Finley knows that to get better he'll need to be on the same page as Aaron Rodgers. “If you go over the years I've done well, we had an offseason program, we had minicamps, we had training camps. So, we had three processes that we were going through for us to get the chemistry. This year, I feel it and it's going to be a good one. I guarantee it.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.
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