New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't the only NFL player who has been sparring with padded gloves this offseason. Packers tight end Jermichael Finley took up boxing as a conditioning diversion and has attracted disciples in teammates such as linebackers Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar.
The physical demands of stepping into the ring and trading punches with another has left the players feeling KO'd at times.
"I promise you, boxing is a different story," Finley told Packers.com. "It's an intense workout. I was dying out there."
Finley began training with pro boxer Brian Vera in Austin, Texas, where Finley played college football for Texas.
After a breakthrough second pro season in which he had 55 catches for 676 yards and five touchdowns in 2009, Finley continues to supplement boxing with the football workouts in the Packers' offseason program this spring.
"I think we got a chance that we may have an All-Pro type," head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Barnett and Chillar, meanwhile, have been accompanying Finley to a Green Bay gym for boxing workouts a few nights a week.
"It's a whole different type of shape you've got to get into," Barnett told Packers.com. "Boxing shape and football shape are two different things, and to have your arms up throwing punches, it's very draining.
"It's very good for us linebackers, though, because we do a lot of ... not punching, but punching in the essence of pushing guys off of us."
— Little by little, the Packers are trimming what was an unusually long list of restricted free agents this year.
Offensive lineman Jason Spitz signed his one-year tender for $1.76 million in early April, allowing him to report to Green Bay and take part in the team's offseason workout program that has been running since March 15.
Spitz, a fifth-year veteran who has started at all three interior spots, is healthy again after undergoing surgery in November for a season-ending back injury he sustained in practice after only four games.
Colledge is one of five Green Bay restricted free agents who remain unsigned. He has been working out at his offseason home in Boise, Idaho. The others: Johnny Jolly, Atari Bigby, Tramon Williams and fullback John Kuhn. Of that group, only Kuhn has been participating in the team's offseason workout program since he signed an injury waiver with the club.
— Spencer Havner, converted from linebacker to tight end last year, arrived belatedly for the voluntary workouts.
Havner signed his one-year tender for $470,000 as an exclusive-rights free agent. Havner, though, is a limited participant in the workouts since he's in recovery mode from the multiple injuries he sustained when crashing his motorcycle March 13 in his native Northern California. The most serious injury was a fractured shoulder blade.
Havner was arrested after the accident for suspicion of drunken driving.
The Nevada County (Calif.) district attorney's office didn't find sufficient evidence to charge Havner and referred the case back to California Highway Patrol.
The Packers are hopeful Havner will be ready to participate in organized team activities, which start in late May.
— Cornerback/return specialist Will Blackmon, who is on the comeback trail this year after suffering a season-ending torn ACL in Week 4 last season, is predicting big things for the Packers in 2010.
Blackmon recently wrote this in a Twitter post: "My motto for the year is, 'This is titletown so act like it!' See yall in dallas."
Dallas Cowboys Stadium will be the site of Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.