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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Finley to leave hospital soon

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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

GREEN BAY - Jermichael Finley will be released from the hospital either today or tomorrow, according to various media reports.  It's just speculation on whether the Green Bay Packers' tight end can play again this season.  

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At least two media reports from ESPN and WDJT-TV in Milwaukee say Finley could miss as little as 4-to-6 weeks -- depending on how the normally-conservative Packers want to be in bringing him back from his injury.  ESPN said the Packers are expected to decide this week whether to put Finley on season-ending injury reserve.  Once he's out of the hospital, Finley is expected to visit neuro-surgeons and specialists who treat spinal injuries.  The latest media reports are that Finley suffered a spinal bruise in his neck that would not need surgery -- and once it heals, he probably would not have a bigger risk than any other player of developing a major spinal injury.  Finley released a video on Twitter yesterday which shows him walking normally, two days after he suffered a vicious hit in the helmet by the shoulder of Tashaun Gipson in the Packers' win over Cleveland.  Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on his weekly Milwaukee radio show that he visited Finley in the hospital -- and he was encouraged by the improvement he's making.  Rodgers said the medical staff did a terrific job of isolating Finley's neck at first. 

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Donald Driver is not coming back.  Packer fans have been hitting the blogs and radio talk shows, asking whether the 38-year-old receiver can un-retire in the wake of injuries to Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb, and James Jones.  Driver tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his agent contacted him, and asked if he would consider it.  He said no.  Driver says he's too busy catching up with his family, watching his son play football and his daughter in gymnastics.  He's also making the national media circuit to promote his new book "Driven."  Driver retired last year as Green Bay's all-time leading receiver.  He played all 14 of his NFL seasons with the Pack.  Driver said he's not sure what he'll be doing five years from now, but he probably won't be a coach.  He says it's too time consuming.  As for the current Packers, Driver says they can bounce back from all their injuries.  He expects rookie Eddie Lacy to keep running well -- and he says back-ups like Jarrett Boykin and Andrew Quarless need to step up.  Driver calls the Green Bay offensive line "amazing" -- and they're doing a great job of protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

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The Packers have re-signed running back Michael Hill to their practice squad, just four days after cutting him to make room for new receiver Chris Harper.  Harper was claimed off waivers from San Francisco late last week, and he played on special teams during the Packers' home win over Cleveland last Sunday.  Hill was on Green Bay's practice squad for the first three games this season and was promoted to the 53-man roster in late September.  Hill played in two games before his initial release last week.  To make room for Hill, the Packers released rookie receiver-and-kick returner Michael Dunn.  Dunn has had two stints on the practice squad this year.  The 4-2 Packers will start practicing today for their Sunday night match-up at Minnesota.

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Former Milwaukee Brewers' reliever John Axford says he feels right at home with the Saint Louis Cardinals.  The Brewers traded their all-time season saves' leader to the Redbirds in late August -- and tonight, his former teammates will watch on TV while Axford goes for his first World Series ring.  The Cardinals will open the best-of-seven Fall Classic at Fenway Park in Boston against the Red Sox.  Axford appeared in 13 games for the Redbirds as the regular season winded down.  He went 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA.  Axford said he felt accepted right away by his new teammates -- and it made winning the National League pennant that much more comfortable for him.  Axford was well-liked in Milwaukee.  He tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that a number of former acquaintances in Wisconsin have called to wish him well in the World Series -- but only one Brewers' player called him.  Axford wouldn't say who it was.  He struggled at times with the Crew over the past two seasons, but he was a mainstay on the 2011 Brewers' team that got to within two victories of a World Series.  Axford broke the team season saves' record that year with 46.  He was also the winning pitcher in Game-Five of the '11 Division Series against Arizona, Milwaukee's first playoff series win since 1982. 

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University of Wisconsin kicker Kyle French wants to make it clear that his decision to leave the Badgers was mutual -- and he was given a chance to return next season.  French went on Facebook last week to say that the coaches wanted him to forego his senior year -- and that he was leaving the Badgers, after missing key field goal attempts the previous two games.  That brought some fan criticism over the way the UW handled the matter.  French responded right away by saying it was a mutual decision.  Yesterday, he made it clear he was given a chance to return -- but he would have to start as the team's No. 4 kicker.  Jack Russell is handling field goals and extra points, Andrew Endicott is making kickoffs, and another kicker is in the pipeline for 2014.  French said he had dreams of making the NFL, but they probably won't be realized.  He expects to get degrees in personal finance and economics from the Madison campus next year.  French made 5-of-8 field goal attempts for the Badgers this year, and 18-of-29 for his career.

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Jacob Zilbar of UW Platteville made the national Division III Team-of-the-Week from D3football.com.  Zilbar, a junior linebacker, had an interception with 34 seconds left to preserve Platteville's one-point victory over UW-Stevens Point.  He also had a season-high 13 tackles.

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Abbi Williamson of Ripon College and Anika Johnson of Saint Norbert are the Midwest Conference volleyball players-of-the-week.  Williamson, a freshman setter, had 68 assists in two Ripon victories over Knox College and Monmouth.  She had a season-high 10 kills against Knox, with a .643 hitting percentage.  Johnson, a freshman middle hitter, had eight blocks and eight digs in Saint Norbert's victory over Lake Forest.  She also had 10 digs and three blocks when the Green Knights beat Beloit.  The Midwest Conference also gave weekly honors to Jamie Brisbois of Lawrence in men's cross country.  He had the league's sixth-fastest time of the season at the Brooks Invitational at UW-Oshkosh.

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The Milwaukee Bucks will play the New York Knicks tonight in an exhibition game at the Resch Center near Green Bay.  The Bucks are 0-5 in the pre-season, after getting crushed at Chicago by 21 points on Monday night.  Shooting guard O.J. Mayo is expected to play tonight.  He missed the Chicago game due to a family matter.  There's been a lot of buzz during the pre-season about Milwaukee's first-round draft choice, 18-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece.  He's already being compared to stars like Kevin Durant -- but Bucks' coach Larry Drew says he'll develop his new player slowly.  Drew says he won't guarantee that Antetokounmpo will be in the Bucks' rotation once the regular season begins next week.  Drew said the newcomer has made the most of his generous playing time during the exhibition games -- but he still needs to learn the pace and speed of the NBA game, and to make sure he understand the Bucks' terminology for various things.  On Monday night, Antetokounmpo played 27 minutes against Chicago with six points, six rebounds, a pair of blocked shots, and two steals.

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NASCAR title contender Matt Kenseth of Cambridge escaped injury yesterday, when he crashed during a test run at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.  Kenseth said he cut a right-front tire -- and the car he was testing is not the same one he'll use during the Sprint Cup race at Fort Worth on Nov. 3.  Kenseth said his main car is quote, "home safe, ready to get to the track."  His Joe Gibbs racing team was one of five taking part in the test runs at Texas.  The test was planned for last week, but it was delayed by rain.  Kenseth lost his lead in the season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup last Sunday.  He's now in second-place, four points behind Jimmie Johnson as the series heads to Martinsville, Virginia this weekend.  There are four races left in the season-ending Chase.  

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