Nick Collins was a standout safety for the Green Bay Packers before suffering a bruised spinal cord early in the 2011 season. Collins underwent surgery and -- despite his wishes -- hasn't played since.
The speculation that Packers tight end Jermichael Finley underwent the same procedure to fuse the C-3 and C-4 vertebra in his neck did not bode well for the tight end's playing future. On Friday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy painted a more optimistic picture in separating the two cases.
"(Packers physician Dr.) Pat (McKenzie) doesn't feel the same way about Jermichael as he felt about Nick," McCarthy said from the NFL Scouting Combine, according to ESPN.com. "So I'm very open and optimistic about Jermichael coming back. I think the specifics of their injuries are different."
McCarthy's comments carry weight as the first public indication the Packers believe Finley will play again.
Finley -- set to become an unrestricted free agent next month -- is determined to return to the field. The tight end's neurosurgeon said he had a "99.9 percent" chance of making a full recovery, according to Finley's agent.
Finley might be a long shot to return to the Packers, but it sounds like the team believes he still counts as an option.