Yesterday was day four of camp, and included the first real scrimmaging. Not surprising given the questions surrounding the team's injuries going into camp (see, e.g., here, here, here, and here), a lot of talk through the first week of practice focuses on medical updates. Here is video of starting DT's Mike Newkirk and Jason Chapman answering reporters' questions about their return from injury. It seems that everyone who was injured now feels good. Of course (what else are they going to say?). To provide a little more detail, Bielema praised Newkirk's performance in the 1-on-1 pass-rush drills, where he did things Bielema says he hasn't seen him do before. Chapman, on the other hand, admitted he still worries about how his knee will react to particular moves, but says it's mental, not physical.
On that note, Bielema is holding Chapman (ACL), Henry (ACL), and Shaughnessy (broken fibula) back from going full bore right now. Particularly, it sounds like Chapman and Henry aren't all the way back from their knee injuries, but they are close. He also held Beckum out of practice yesterday because he was hurting in the "lower body." Given that he's gained 17 pounds since last season (to build his draft prospects from a blocking TE standpoint) and sat out part of the Spring with an injury, it seems like the better part of valor to let one of the nation's top tight ends take a day off to recuperate.
On the injury bad news front, junior defensive lineman Brandon Hoey "hung up his jersey" yesterday after not progressing like he wanted from back surgery in the Spring. UW is doing the right thing and getting him a medical scholarship so that he doesn't lose the benefit of his education.
Some other bits from the day's wrap-up:
Bielema said the three positions most up for grabs during camp are middle (mike) linebacker, strong safety, and "one of the corners." Breaking that down, after Hodge didn't impress as much as was hoped at MLB last season, Jaevery McFadden is apparently looking like a candidate to replace him. Although sized more like an outside linebacker, Bielema pointed out that when defending the spread, speed is more important than size. Seeing as how roughly 8 teams in the BigTen run some kind of a spread, McFadden is in position to supplant Hodge.
At strong safety, Jay Valai replaced Aubrey Pleasant as the starting SS in the Spring, but the competion is still open. Valai needs to be more consistent, and waiting in the wings is transfer Chris Maragos, who while "still learning the position" continues to impress.
The "one" corner position is right corner and it's post-ACL Langford vs. Mario Goins, who put on a good show in the Spring while Langford was recovering from surgery. Bottom line is this one is up in the air with Langford back.
Finally, everyone says PJ Hill looks as good as he ever has. For the first time he was a full participant in winter and summer conditioning, as well as Spring ball. He's slimmer, faster, and stronger than he's been. Or so they say. That can't be anything but good.
Bielema's comments to reporters yesterday are on video, here. Wednesday's are here. What can we say? The guy likes his windbreakers.
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