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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Finley's agent says he'll play football again

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GREEN BAY - Jermichael Finley's agent insists that his client will play football again, even though a former Packer in a similar predicament never returned. 

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Ex-Green Bay tight end Mark Chmura ended his career after having almost the same type of spinal fusion surgery that Finley's about to undergo.  Chmura said on a Milwaukee radio show Monday that he spoke with Finley last Sunday -- and after his own experience, Chmura said he would "bet his bottom dollar" that Finley won't play again.  Chmura said Finley's surgery will fuse the "C-3" and "C-4" vertebrae to resolve the bruised spinal cord Finley suffered in the October 20th Packer win over Cleveland.  His agent, Blake Baratz, issued a statement yesterday to "set the record straight" on Finley's prospects.  Baratz said the surgery may not be 100-percent necessary, but it would be a pro-active measure to alleviate future risks or re-injury.  Finley's operation will be performed by Pittsburgh Steelers' team neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon -- and once it's done, Baratz said Finley has every intention of resuming his pro football career.  He'll be a free agent after this season.

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Packers' All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews is expected to wear a smaller brace over his right hand during Sunday's game against the Giants at New York.  Matthews wore a club that almost looked like a boxing glove in last Sunday's home loss to Philadelphia.  A smaller device would give Matthews more freedom to move his hand and use it, while continuing to recover from the broken thumb he suffered in the October sixth win over Detroit.  Matthews sat out four games before returning against the Eagles.  Coach Mike McCarthy said a doctor's report indicated that Matthews would be okay with something smaller to protect the hand.  The Packers remain thin at the outside linebacker spot.  Second-year pro Nick Perry is out with a foot-and-ankle injury which occurred last Sunday -- Perry's first game back after breaking a foot October 13th against Baltimore.  Mike Neal also sat out of yesterday's practice with an abdominal strain.  Rookie linebacker Andy Mulumba returned to practice after being out with a sprained ankle.  The Giants have three straight wins after an 0-6 start.  The Packers have dropped their last two, but they're still at 5-4. 

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Six notable Green Bay Packers did not practice today – all of whom were injured in the past 10 days.  Right tackle Don Barclay was waiting for a brace to arrive to cover the injured knee he suffered last Sunday against Philadelphia.  Coach Mike McCarthy had no immediate word on whether the second-year Barclay could practice further, or play in Sunday’s game against the Giants at New York.  It’s not known whether Marshall Newhouse would replace Barclay if he couldn’t play.  Derek Sherrod was in the right tackle spot during the half-line running drill that reporters could see during the media’s open part of the practice.  Among those sitting out were linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry, corner Casey Hayward, and defensive end Johnny Jolly.  Nobody has been firmly ruled out for Sunday’s contest yet with the exception of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s still getting over a broken collarbone. 

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The University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team will play at UW-Milwaukee tonight at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee.  UWM is playing its regular season opener, after an exhibition win over Division-Three Wisconsin Lutheran 11 days ago.  Ex-Wisconsin assistant Kyle Rechlicz is starting her second year as Milwaukee’s head coach.  She brought an up-tempo pace to the Panthers, who increased their scoring by 15-percent from the previous campaign.   The Badgers are 1-0, after crushing Drake 66-41 last Sunday in Madison.  Heade coach Bobbie Kelsey’s Wisconsin team lost only one player to graduation last spring, Tiara Stephen.  The Badgers return 89-percent of their scoring from a year ago.

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UW-Stevens Point is beginning its quest for a national women’s volleyball title at mid-afternoon.  The Pointers are playing Wartburg College in the first round of their NCAA Division III regional in Saint Paul.  Stevens Point enters the nationals at 31-4.  Wartburg is 25-11.  The winner will play either Cornell or Saint Benedict on Saturday.  Tonight, UW-Whitewater plays its first-round Division III match against Washington University of Saint Louis.  Both teams are in a regional at Elmhurst, Ill. near Chicago.  Whitewater is 26-7 this season, and Washington is 27-11.  That winner will face either Elmhurst or Dominican on Saturday.  The Sweet-16 round will be played on Sunday.  The final three rounds are set for next weekend in Holland, Michigan.

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