Update on Jeff Finley’s status

Photo: St. Catharines Standard

Photo: St. Catharines Standard

Bernie Puchalski has a story on Jeff Finley in the St. Catharines Standard – Lineman working way back from injury. It tends to confirm for me what I think was becoming more obvious – there is a good chance Jeff Finley won’t be back in Guelph for another season. It was nice to hear that Finley definitely prefers to return to Guelph over going onto the Als’ practice roster. He is absolutely right about having the speed to contribute on special teams given he runs a sub 5-second 40. A lot of things can happen on a CFL roster especially given the Import ratio, so nothing is certain, other than Gryphons fans wish him the best.

ST. CATHARINES – Jeff Finley’s quest to start his rookie season in the Canadian Football League is temporarily on hold.

The 22-year-old St. Catharines native, selected in the third round, 22nd overall by the Montreal Alouettes in the 2014 CFL draft, is sitting on the team’s six-game injured list after injuring his left elbow.

After making it through the Alouettes’ rookie camp, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman was injured on the second day of the team’s main camp.

“I got tripped up in our inside run drill and I fell weird backwards and landed on my elbow.”

The hyper-extended elbow pushed him to the injured list and he’s unable to practise.

“I’m basically lifting weights and doing sprints during practice time,” the Sir Winston Churchill product said. “I’m getting paid and I’m (going to be) playing, but I have to wait six games before I can participate again.”

He will be able to return to practising in two weeks and will be eligible to play as of Aug. 2.

“I’ve been out for a little over a month and I’m getting a little antsy,” he said.

All the range of motion has returned to the elbow and he’s working on regaining strength in it.

Finley has been happy with the progress he’s made at his first pro football camps.

“During rookie camp, I could tell there was a slight step up in the speed level, but the actual skill level I found it wasn’t as big a jump as I was expecting,” the former Niagara Spear said. “I was pretty happy with how I was playing and I just wish I didn’t get hurt.”

The fifth defensive lineman taken in the draft had mixed emotions when he found out being on the injury list would keep him with the Alouettes.

“The only thing I don’t want to happen is to get put on the practice roster because I was either hoping to play on the active roster or go finish my last year at Guelph.”

He’s confident that won’t happen.

“I’m quick enough to make special teams so as soon as I’m back I’m going to really push to get on special teams and from there working my way on to the starting roster for the D (defensive) line.

Last season, Guelph went 7-1 in regular season and lost to Queen’s in playoffs. Finley would be going into his fifth year at Guelph after the kineisiology major red-shirted his first year with an arm injury.

While waiting to heal, Finley is enjoying earning a pro paycheque.

“It’s not too bad at all,” the former Niagara Spears said. “We have football from nine o’clock until two o’clock and then you’re on your own, doing lifts and watching a little extra film.”

He is living at an extended-stay hotel and has had no problems adjusting to his new lifestyle.

“I’m used to it,” he said. “I have to cook for myself but it’s nice that the hotel comes to clean your room which is nice.”

He’s not thinking too much about playing in a CFL game close to St. Catharines. The Alouettes are in Toronto Oct. 18 and Hamilton Nov. 8.

“I’m more worried about getting back playing,” he said.

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