Repeatedly during the jog-through period to begin Wednesday's practice, Rodgers threw the ball to the playmaking tight end who has been out since suffering a knee sprain on Oct. 25 against Cleveland.
What Rodgers saw was encouraging.
"I'm excited about that. I really am," Rodgers said. "I love throwing to the big guy. He makes plays for us down the field, and having him back, you know, adds another element to our offense. In his absence, I thought Donald Lee has made some big catches, Spencer (Havner), all he does is catch touchdowns, he's made some plays for us. So, I think he's been a little anxious to get back. Definitely he's worked hard in the weight room and the training room to get back and we're excited to have him back."
Coach Mike McCarthy said Finley "moved around fine" while taking his normal allotment of reps. Finley hasn't practiced since the injury, and while Havner certainly helped pick up the slack with four touchdowns in four games, Finley's ability to get deep down the middle and occupy safeties is something the offense has lacked.
"Anytime you have a player, whether it is a tight end, a receiver, a big back, that has the ability to win down the middle of the field, it creates so many more positives for your whole perimeter group," McCarthy said. "So, definitely, Jermichael Finley fits into that category."
Kampman back in lineup
As promised, Aaron Kampman was back in the starting lineup at left outside linebacker after missing the Dallas game with a concussion.
"I feel good about where Aaron is medically, and he looked like he moved around fine today," McCarthy said. "I'll know more once we see the tape. But, yeah, I thought he bounced back like you knew he would, and he looked like his normal self out there today."
The player who replaced him against the Cowboys, rookie Brad Jones, was limited in practice. He also has a concussion. The coaches on Monday said Jones played well enough to merit at least some playing time.
"I don't know exactly what they're going to do yet," Jones said. "But if they let me get a chance to go out there and do some things, I'll be happy — more than happy. I definitely think I played well."
Mark Tauscher and T.J. Lang split the reps at right tackle during the portion of practice that reporters were allowed to attend. Tauscher, who missed last week's game with a knee sprain sustained during his season debut two weeks ago at Tampa Bay, said the knee "felt pretty good" at practice.
Tauscher called the injury a "fluke" thing, and felt fortunate that it wasn't more severe, considering he tore the ACL in that knee for a second time in December. He said he never was a possibility to play against Dallas, even though McCarthy left the door open throughout the week.
"It was unfortunate because it's been a long road back and I was really feeling good," Tauscher said. "It's part of the game and you have to be able to deal with it."
Allen out; joins Browns
The Packers released wide receiver Jake Allen, the team announced, and agent Bus Cook said Allen was claimed on waivers by the offensively challenged Cleveland Browns.
The Packers have not filled the roster spot.
Allen, a Division III All-America in 2007 at Mississippi College, spent his first year-and-a-half in the NFL on the Packers' practice squad. He earned a promotion to the 53-man roster on Oct. 27. At the time, Brett Swain had just been placed on injured reserve and Jordy Nelson was out with a knee sprain.
Allen played in one game, playing mostly special teams on Nov. 1 against Minnesota. He suffered a quad injury during practice the following week and was inactive for the last two games.
With Allen's promotion, the Packers filled the void on the practice squad by signing Biren Ealy. Ealy was promoted to the active roster for the Nov. 8 game against Tampa Bay, when the Packers were without Allen and Nelson.
With Nelson healthy and playing on Sunday against Dallas, the 6-foot-2 Ealy was the choice over the 6-foot-4 Allen.
Packers injury report
Did not participate — LB Desmond Bishop (ankle); DE Cullen Jenkins (ankle); LB Brady Poppinga (quad). Limited participation — LB Brad Jones (concussion); LB Clay Matthews III (jaw); CB Charles Woodson (hip). Full participation — LB Brandon Chillar (hand); TE Jermichael Finley (knee); LB Aaron Kampman (concussion); FB John Kuhn (hand); T Mark Tauscher (knee).
"Brady, Cullen Jenkins, and really Desmond Bishop are all in a similar boat," McCarthy said. "Hopefully, after their rehab workouts today we'll see how they respond. I think they all have a possible chance of practicing tomorrow."
— Kicker Mason Crosby is 15-of-20 on field goals this season. The five misses are from 49, 55, 55, 51 and 52 yards.
"I think it's important for myself and Shawn (Slocum, special teams coordinator) and Mason to A, just keep taking the information that you are given during the workout during the course of the week. Obviously pregame is a big determining factor based on the wind and field position on when you do go, time of game. There are a number of factors that play into trying those field goals. But I still have confidence. I think I have illustrated that by the opportunities that have been given to Mason. I think he is fully capable of making those kicks. I wouldn't put him in the position if I didn't think he could be successful."
— Packers cornerback Charles Woodson was named NFC defensive player of the week after forcing three turnovers against Dallas.
"I'll tell you what, he is really playing great football," 49ers coach Mike Singletary said in a conference call. "I saw him when he left the Raiders and talked to him briefly. Really didn't know where he was going to end up going, but the fact that he ended up in Green Bay has been a tremendous lift for them. He's just a guy that he plays hard, he hits like a linebacker, he runs, he's always hustling, he can blitz. There's just a lot of great attributes that he has as a football player."
— Matthews, one of the nominees for NFL Rookie of the Week, ranks second among rookies with four sacks. Brian Orakpo of Washington has seven.
— Isaac Bruce, who ranks fifth in NFL history in receptions and second in yards, has been benched in favor of Josh Morgan. According to Singletary, Bruce said Morgan "is ready" to start. Singletary called Bruce "a class individual."
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