Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finneran Showing No Ill Effects from Knee Injury

The cheers for Brian Finneran sound a bit louder these days.

He's had great catches along the sideline and even more nice grabs over the middle during Russell Falcons Training Camp. But cheers aren't necessarily coming for his play alone.

His history made him a fan favorite.

The nine-year veteran missed the last two seasons with knee injuries. But his 15 career touchdowns (12 since joining the Falcons in 2002) ring clear in fans' minds. Every catch made during camp is a sign of a comeback. Every step of a pass route is a step in the right direction.

"My legs may have been a little heavy," Finneran said after his first practice this off-season. "I'm just easing into it but I felt pretty good in terms of football and knowing where I need to be."

Finneran has played in 86 career games. He has 187 catches for 2,647 yards. Most have gone for first downs, cementing his status as one of the team's better clutch receivers. Now he's earning his stripes all over again.

“I think it will be a great story if Brian makes it all the way back," added Head Coach Mike Smith, "He has done a great job rehabilitating and having to miss two seasons. He is doing everything in his power and we are going to bring him along slowly. We had a talk last night about when they were going to let him get in two practices a day. That should be coming very soon. That will be the true test to see if he can take the pounding of two practices. He has made a lot of nice catches here for us at camp so far.”

After the first day of full-pad work, Finneran was in good spirits.

“That is part of it, but the other comes in the preseason..." he said when asked about taking contact from the defense.

Finneran said he's been running routes at full-speed for several weeks but he's careful not to overdue it.

"I'll ice a little bit longer and work on a few things with the knee," he said. "(Coaches) have been taking care of me pretty good. If any soreness comes up I can talk to the coaches and they'll take care of me."

Finneran helped consistently on special teams before his injury and says he can also contribute there if needed. The injury won't hold him back.

"I made my NFL career playing special teams," he said. "If I had to go out there and play punt team, punt return or cover kickoffs... Even if I'm a backup guy they know if someone goes down I can fill right in.

"If they ask me to do that I'll be happy to do it."

So the cheers will continue with every catch the 6-foot-5 receiver makes. With luck and dedication, there won't be a repeat of the injury bug.

"I have not had any problems," Finneran said. "I feel good and I don’t foresee any problems.”

J Michael Moore
Atlantafalcons.com Managing Editor

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