August 18, 2010

Bielema breaks down team injuries

MADISON - When a team gets into the midst of two-a-days it's not uncommon to see some players start to get nicked up. During that phase of camp the body starts to feel the bumps and bruises a bit more easily and players tend to feel them a bit more often.

So following Wednesday's evening practice, it shouldn't come as a surprise that head coach Bret Bielema had a long list of injuries to update.

We'll start with Mike Taylor. During Sunday's media day press conference, Bielema made it known that the sophomore linebacker would undergo another procedure to help his injured knee and that it would sideline him for 2-4 weeks.

According to Bielema, the procedure went better than expected.

"Once they got in there it looked better than they thought," Bielema said. "They were able to clean that up and they felt really good about the knee as it looked. I know Mike is in good spirits. Hopefully we'll get him back sooner rather than later.

"It might be before the UNLV game."

Originally, it was reported that Taylor would definitely miss the UNLV game, but it appears there is potential for an early return.

"Anytime you're dealing with a knee you really don't know until you get in there," Bielema said. "Mike will be back as soon as possible. I know nobody wants to be out there more than him. We're not going to rush him back because there is a lot of football left after that."

-Brian Wozniak who endured an awkward collision with Dezmen Southward during the scrimmage portion of Monday's morning practice, will miss an unknown amount of time after suffering a fractured shoulder.

"He took a shot over the middle from Dez," Bielema said. "Right now that looks like where it is, but there will be further X-Ray's tomorrow so I really don't know how long at this point."

Jay Valai, who was seen earlier Monday with a wrap around his leg and hobbling around with the help of crutches, is said to be out with a concussion. The lower part of his body, according to Bielema, is not what's keeping him out.

"He's been out the past two days," Bielema said. "We're keeping him out of meetings until he becomes able to come out here and watch it."

-Blake Sorensen, who has missed the past four practices with a calf issue, will likely return next week.

"X-Ray's are negative," Bielema said. "He just had a little soft tissue swelling. He had an MRI on that to make sure everything was clean and it was."

-Kevin Zeitler, who was slotted as the starting right guard, suffered an ankle sprain last Saturday during the team's extended scrimmage. He may be able to return soon.

"He swears to me that he's going to be out of the boot tomorrow," Bielema said. "It's driving him nuts. I know the offensive line is beating him up so I know he'll be back out."

-On the defensive line, Jordan Kohout also seems to be close to returning following a bone bruise suffered during Saturday's scrimmage.

"If he doesn't go tomorrow," Bielema said. "My guess is he'll go the next day."

-Safety Conor O'Neill is recovering from a sprained ankle. Bielema expects him back around Friday.

-Kevin Claxton aggravated his back, but is close to returning to practice.

-Finally, Marquis Mason was added to the long list of injured players. On Monday, the freshman was seen with crutches that helped him get around with an inflamed knee.

"He will do an MRI tomorrow just to see where he's at," Bielema said.

Building safety depth:

If there is any blessing in disguise regarding the safety injuries it's one, they're not that serious and two, it allows the younger guys to gain valuable experience with multiple reps.

With both Valai (concussion) and Aaron Henry (precautionary) out during Wednesday's night practice, both Southward and Shelton Johnson received plenty of reps.

In addition to those young players, Adam Hampton and Jerry Ponio saw time flanking that position.

"I think Jay will be back sooner than later, so it's good for us to get Dez a lot of reps," Bielema said. "Johnson has looked pretty good and is getting an opportunity in there. Adam Hampton and Jerry Ponio are a couple guys that are young in terms of getting on the field but we feel have good upside."

Freshmen that will play:

It's become commonplace to see freshman James White break down opposing defenders and shake them for extra yardage out of the backfield. Anybody that has seen him play this week would tell you he's looking like a contender for playing time as a true freshman. Following practice, Bielema echoed that sentiment.

"Absolutely," Bielema responded when asked if White will play. "I do think so. On offense, Sherard Cadogan and James White will play for sure and Manasseh Garner. Those three will play. On the defensive side of the ball, for sure Beau Allen. We were going to make an evaluation on Josh Harrison following this Saturday's scrimmage, but it looks like he's going to play.

"Then Jameson Wright is the intriguing one. We have four corners that are playing pretty well, but he could really help us in the four phases of the kicking game as well."

Rouse playing with some fire:

With Sorensen and Taylor out with their respective injuries, Kevin Rouse has decided to take it upon himself and make the most of his opportunities. During Wednesday's night practice, though, his aggressive demeanor may have gone too far.

"I see him throwing people to the ground too much," Bielema said in reference to Rouse's play in non-tackling drills. "I warned him in front of everybody that the next person he throws down I'm going to let him throw down.

"But Kevin is playing with a lot of speed."

Abbrederis bounces back:

During Wednesday's morning practice, Jared Abbrederis caught the attention of his head coach. And it wasn't a friendly encounter.

With his team knocking on the door in the redzone, Abbrederis dropped a strike from Jon Budmayr that hit him square in the shoulder pads. Bielema made it clear that he was dissatisfied with the play and challenged the young receiver to play better.

Apparently that worked.

During the evening practice, Abbrederis was on fire and caught everything thrown his way.

"I don't know if he had a drop," Bielema said. "Jared is a competitive kid and he's trying to earn that PT with those other senior receivers in front of him. Jared and Manasseh Garner have jumped out to me the past three days."

Play of the day:

There is no doubt that Abbrederis logged the catch of the day, and maybe camp, during Wednesday's evening practice.

Abbrederis ran a deep fly route and Budmayr delivered the ball a bit behind him near the sideline. Abbrederis adjusted on the fly with Devin Smith suffocating him with coverage, reached behind him and reeled in a superb one-handed catch. It almost looked like he just gloved the ball like he picked it up off the ground. It was a phenomenal play that showcased phenomenal concentration.

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