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August 27, 2011MADISON - Best case scenario? Wisconsin sophomore quarterback Jon Budmayr will only be sidelined for the Badgers season opener against UNLV.
The worst case is pretty self-explanatory in regards to Budmayr who has been held out of practice for most of fall camp with an injury to his throwing elbow.
"They went to a hand, arm and elbow specialist," UW head coach Bret Bielema said during his Saturday press conference. "He basically had irritated a nerve that has swelled up to the point that it has caused numbness in two fingers of his throwing hand. Until that comes back he can't really grip a football or do anything with the throwing motion. Only time will tell how fast that comes back or if surgery is needed.
"Right now it looks like he's going to be out a prolonged time."
Redshirt freshman Joe Brennan will be Russell Wilson's immediate backup for the foreseeable future. True freshman Joel Stave has also been put on notice.
"Both of those guys know that they're kind of in the mix if called upon," Bielema said. "Obviously Nate Tice is there to help get us out of a game as well."
The bigger news, other than the immediate lack of depth at the position, is what happens to Budmayr. Considering the swelling has failed to recede over the course of the past handful of weeks and considering the coaching staff and trainers aren't entirely sure what the prognosis is, it seems as though Budmayr could be put on the shelf for quite some time.
Should surgery need to happen, Bielema was confident Budmayr would be healed and ready for spring camp, one where an interesting positional battle would see its genesis.
"We're still kind of getting some new information," Bielema said. "When you're dealing with a nerve it's very independent upon the body and how you react. Not one scenario can be forecasted for another guy in the same situation. There's a lot of uncertainty right now, but I really do believe that come next spring he's be ready to fully compete for the job."
The injury news outside of Budmayr seemed to be pretty encouraging. Aaron Henry (sprained ankle) has been completely cleared and will practice moving forward.
Freshman running back Jeff Lewis (hand) practiced Friday night and is good to go. Freshman tight end/fullback Sherard Cadogan (high ankle sprain) is expected back at any time. Kicker Philip Welch will kick Saturday afternoon and has been kicking during a couple different occasions throughout the past week.
Bielema also mentioned that there is an outside chance sophomore wide receiver Manasseh Garner will be ready and available for week one of the season. Originally it was thought that Garner wouldn't be able to participate until week two of the regular season.
"We're getting a lot of guys healthy," Bielema said.
The initial depth chart released earlier in the week has Alec Lerner handling kickoffs and Philip Welch taking care of field goal opportunities. In the meantime, though, Kyle French has continued to impress and hasn't quite thrown in the towel in regards to that ongoing kicking competition.
"I've really been happy with Kyle's progress," Bielema said. "I tried to put as much pressure as I could on the kickers and see them perform under as much pressure as we could. Both Alec and Kyle responded very, very positively. Phil, as we know, has been able to kick in pressure situations.
"If he shows me during the course of the week, more importantly coach Charlie Partridge, we'll make the ultimate call on that. But I really believe Phil, because he's been there and done that, can kind of slip back in this week.
"I could see Phil being our field goal kicker if he shows it this week."
Starters and special teams:
Look back to a season ago and it won't take long to see the impact several starters made during special team situation. Whether Lance Kendricks was demolishing opponents during kickoffs or David Gilreath returning punts and kicks, there were plenty of regular contributors handling special teams duties.
Expect that trend to continue in 2011.
"We probably will limit guys so that they're a part of only two units," Bielema said. "Not just Jared Abbrederis, but a guy like David Gilbert, Dezmen Southward, Antonio Fenelus and Devin Smith. We've got to make sure we're not taxing them during game time, but with as hard as we practice and as hard as we rep we've got to be smart about how much work we're giving them during the week as well.
"Naturally it will be a little bit of a concern, but it's not going to affect whether they're back there or not."
Oh captain my captain:
Bielema insists he didn't fudge the numbers when he sat down with Mark Taurisani (Director of Football Operation) and counted the votes coming in for captain. Though two players from both sides of the ball were picked, Bielema had nothing to do with it.
"You pretty much just kept marking the same four guys," Bielema said of the process. "It is a unique mix and it is blended perfectly with offense and defense. They're very dynamic."
Bradie Ewing and Patrick Butrym are two Wisconsin kids. They grew up within its borders and proved to be lifelong Badger fans throughout their entire childhood.
"They both made a reference about being a captain for the school they idolized growing up," Bielema said. "And how that came full circle when they were standing up there."
Aaron Henry and Russell Wilson are two players that never really anticipated being a part of the Badger family until circumstances outside of their control eventually led them to Madison.
It's an interesting gel of background stories and personalities.
"Aaron Henry is a guy that turned down Florida and a national championship team for a scholarship to come play at Wisconsin," Bielema said. "He talked about that. Then Russell just made reference to the fact that he's never been a part of anything like this. He really truly loved everybody in the room and he felt accepted when he came it.
"He said it was nowhere close to where we were going to go, but he was generally excited to be here. I think that's the culture that we have. Everybody has a little different story but they all come together as one."
Bielema on his philosophy toward Twitter:
"We've basically always had the premise to not put anything out there you wouldn't want your mother to read or anything out there that could motivate our opponents. A team that has a bunch of rules (will have) a bunch of rules that are going to get broken or violated. So I haven't banned it. I will, case-by-case, ban someone if I find them to be really, really inappropriate with what they're Facebooking or Tweeting, but on the same account I think it's a freedom of expression."