By Vaughn McClure, Tribune reporter 1:45 p.m. CDT, September 13, 2012
Major Wright was out injured when the Chicago Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers 27-17 in Week 3 last season. The safety still got a close view of how tough a cover Jermichael Finley could be.
The Packers tight end scored three touchdowns in the game, including one in front of Wright’s replacement, Craig Steltz. Green Bay used Finley outside and out of the slot.
"He’s an elite tight end," Wright said. "He’s the best, right now. But I’ve been working on my one-on-one skills this offseason. I feel like I’m prepared, and I feel like (Chris) Conte is prepared."
Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski might argue with Wright’s claim about Finley being the best, but the Bears have a challenge on their hands Thursday night in Green Bay, no matter where the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Finley stands among the league’s tight ends.
Steltz was the last line of defense on Finley’s third and final touchdown in last season’s game -- a 10-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers. On the play, Rodgers drew cornerback Tim Jennings from Finley by sending a receiver into the flat. Steltz was a step late with his help over the top.
"He’s a good ballplayer," Steltz said of Finley. "What you saw last year was good timing between him and the quarterback. That’s a huge part of their offense: timing.
"If we’re over the top, they do a good job of throwing back-shoulders. When we’re underneath, it’s fades. As defensive backs, we have to have exceptional breaks and stay tight through the coverage on him. We have to continue to work to keep the ball out of his hands."
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Finley matched up against a linebacker, as he did in scoring a touchdown versus Lance Briggs last season. But Finley also had developed somewhat of a reputation for having bad hands.
The Bears hope Finley drops the ball Thursday night.