Falcons' Finneran back for more

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. --- Brian Finneran allowed himself a satisfied smile.

Atlanta receiver Brian Finneran (right) absorbs a hit from Jacksonville cornerback Scotty McGee during a scrimmage. Finneran says he feels good ahead of his 11th season with the Falcons.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Atlanta receiver Brian Finneran (right) absorbs a hit from Jacksonville cornerback Scotty McGee during a scrimmage. Finneran says he feels good ahead of his 11th season with the Falcons.

Another year. Another comeback.

Finneran, 34, is back for his 11th season with the Falcons and on Wednesday proclaimed he felt healthy and ready for the team's preseason schedule, which begins with Friday night's game against Kansas City.

A proclamation of good health is notable for Finneran following major knee surgeries in 2006 and 2007 and another season-ending knee injury last year.

Finneran didn't hesitate when asked if he felt a sense of satisfaction to be playing years after many believed his career was over.

"Absolutely," he said. "After I did it the second time in 2007, even for a few weeks I was done in my head. Mentally, I was done.

"But I just kept chugging along and working hard and I've got two years under my belt now and feeling pretty good. I had a couple of banged up knees last year but nothing serious and I'm back now healthy and I just keep going and working hard. It's a tough sport. Guys get banged up every week. You just try not to be that guy."

The severity of the 2006 and 2007 injuries allowed Finneran to almost casually dismiss the torn left posterior cruciate ligament that ended his 2009 season in December.

Finneran has recovered from far worse knee injuries.

The receiver suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in his 2006 training camp with the Falcons. He also suffered cartilage damage and a displaced knee cap.

The devastating injury could have ended Finneran's career. He needed a year to recover but then also missed the 2007 season when the left ACL again blew out.

That was when even he believed his career was over.

Instead, the 34-year-old receiver played in a combined 26 games the past two years. He made a quick recovery after suffering back spasms at the start of training camp and is ready for Friday's preseason game.

While the Falcons usually target two-time Pro Bowl pick Roddy White for big plays, the team counts on Finneran to move the chains. Of his 217 career catches with Atlanta, 167 have been for a first down or touchdown.

The Falcons need Finneran because Michael Jenkins, expected to be the No. 2 receiver behind White, suffered a shoulder injury and could miss four to six weeks.

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johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 08/12/10 - 05:31 am
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I like Finneran and respect

I like Finneran and respect his ability to get open and great hands, but since he's 34 with rebuilt knees, I question the wisdom of inside crossing patterns that has him taking serious hits. I suspect this guy will leave football as a cripple.

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