Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 11/22/11
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's a goal of Packers tight end Jermichael Finley to be viewed as the best at his position in the NFL.The 24-year-old has looked like it at several different moments of his young career, but on a Green Bay team that is loaded with offensive weapons, Finley's numbers alone don't suggest that he's reached that level yet.Through 10 weeks of this season, Finley is ninth in the league among tight ends in yards and tied for fifth in touchdowns.But the value he adds, according to the Packers wide receiver group that benefits from it, comes simply from Finley being on the field."He's going to always bring attention," veteran receiver Donald Driver said. "People know how good he is. He has his presence. When teams go out there, they know they have to put pressure on Jermichael, they have to jam Jermichael and they have to try to take him away. They have to disrupt him any way possible. That's what makes him such a great tight end."Recently, it's been other young tight ends in the NFL getting much of the spotlight. New England's 22-year-old playmaker Rob Gronkowski has ascended as the best statistical tight end in the league with back-to-back games with two touchdowns. Jimmy Graham, 24, leads the New Orleans Saints' No. 1 passing offense in receiving yards from the tight end spot.But Green Bay has such a deep receiving group that it doesn't allow Finley to get nearly the same amount of looks in the passing game as those two. Gronkowski has been thrown to 80 times this season, while Graham has been targeted 94 times. Finley, however, only has 51 targets.The lack of targets to Finley, at least in comparison to Gronkowski and Graham, is due in large part to the Packers having both Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings at receiver. Nelson is third in the NFL in touchdowns, while Jennings is fourth. Jennings in ninth in the league in receiving yards and Nelson is 10th.That doesn't leave much left for Finley."You're not going to have those games where you put up 100 yards every game (on this year's team)," Driver said. "It just doesn't happen. It doesn't matter who you are. If you get one catch, you better be happy that you got that one because Aaron (Rodgers) is a great quarterback and what he's proven is that he doesn't have to force the ball into one person. You don't find that in any other offense in the NFL but ours."So when Finley is overlooked by NFL analysts and fans as being a step below Gronkowski and Graham due statistical disparities this season, it just serves as motivation for him."I feed off of it," Finley said. "I want to be the best tight end and I try to stay at that level. It's a goal."Finley looked poised for a breakout season in 2010 by racking up more than 300 receiving yards in the first four games. Then a knee injury derailed him as the Packers went on to become Super Bowl champions with Finley on injured reserve.This season in Week 3, Finley looked like he had completely returned to form with a three-touchdown game at Chicago, also putting up season-highs in receptions and yards.But since then, Finley has had two separate games of just one catch and another game with two receptions for 13 yards.Finley's individual production is part of the reason that, despite the Packers being 10-0, he said he was not satisfied following Green Bay's win over the Buccaneers last weekend."We didn't come out and play fast or push the tempo," Finley said after that game. "We have to go back and look at the film and work on that, seriously. They played straight man and tested us. That was on us. We're supposed to expose that. We're supposed to expose that man-to-man defense."At 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds, Finley has the measurements to expose any one-on-one matchups, and play-calling head coach Mike McCarthy lines him up in several different spots to try to take advantage of that. Finley plays next to the tackles on the line of scrimmage like a typical tight end, as a slot receiver and as a receiver out wide."The easiest is the slot, for sure," Finley said. "I know right off the bat that I'll probably be the first read if I have a little Ronde Barber type (5-10, 184) on me. If I see (Rodgers) looking, I know where he's coming."Wherever Finley lines up, there is a chance it could be with another team next season as his rookie contract is expiring and he's currently set to be a free agent in the offseason.Although Finley recently said that he wants to be "a Packer for life," no new deal has been reached. So if Finley does choose to test free agency after this season, his decision could come down to whether he is happy as one of several receiving threats in Green Bay or wants to be a No. 1 guy like Graham is with the Saints."I'm glad he's on our side," Driver said. "Defenses are always trying to figure out how they can shut him down. We've got too many weapons, so it's hard to do that."Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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