It's sounding less and less likely that University of Wisconsin starting center Peter Konz will be available for the Rose Bowl game against Oregon on Jan. 2.
Konz missed the past three games with a dislocated left ankle and was hoping to return for the bowl game — but the date for his return to practice keeps getting pushed back.
UW coach Bret Bielema had said he hoped Konz would start practicing this week. But at Bielema's Monday news conference, he said the hope now is for Konz to start practicing after the team arrives in Los Angeles on Monday.
"Pete hasn't practiced with us yet to this date," Bielema said. "Hopefully, (we're) going to get him involved in our preparation out there."
Konz is flying out to see a doctor for a second opinion this week. But with four final exams scheduled through the early part of the week, Bielema said Konz will leave on Wednesday and return on Thursday afternoon.
"(We) didn't want to interrupt his academic schedule," Bielema said.
Bielema has said it is important for Konz to get a second opinion, "because he's got a lot out there, not only the next couple weeks with us but also for a future (NFL) decision."
Konz is one of two juniors on the team, along with running back Montee Ball, who have requested draft evaluations by the NFL's College Advisory Committee. The deadline for draft-eligible underclassmen to apply for the 2012 draft is Jan. 15.
Bielema said Konz's injury status "will definitely (be) a factor" in his decision whether to leave or return.
"I believe this follow-up appointment or second opinion, obviously if there's some extended medical things, that's going to definitely affect his status," Bielema said.
Bielema said a player must not only consider how he stacks up with other players at the same position in the draft, but also with players at different spots, who have similar draft grades.
"When you start talking first and second rounds — and even a little bit in the third — if you're a player in that draft status, like Pete, he's not only competing against other centers, he's competing against like (UW quarterback) Russell Wilson — next best player on the board — for teams," Bielema said.
If Konz doesn't play, sophomore Ryan Groy would play left guard with sophomore Travis Frederick at center.
That lineup was effective the past two games, but not having Konz, who has made several All-America teams, would be a blow.
"Pete's a good player and you want to be at full strength," UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said.
UW to get new threads?
Bielema said there will be alterations to the team's road uniforms for the Roe Bowl, although nothing is final.
He said he is not trying to match Oregon, which is known for its bold uniform combinations and color options.
"No, I'm not, but I'm not oblivious," Bielema said. "I was a marketing major (at Iowa) for those of you who don't know it."
Oregon is a prominent Nike school and has close ties with Phil Knight, Nike's chairman, who attended the school.
UW is an Adidas school and Bielema wouldn't mind being regarded as one of the shoe company's top schools. What better place to show that off than in a Bowl Championship Series matchup?
"It's a BCS Rose Bowl matchup, between an Adidas school and a Nike school," Bielema said. "I appreciate everything Adidas has done for us here. It's kind of a unique situation, because you've got Wisconsin, who is red and white on road uniforms. To incorporate a rose theme, in that type of environment, I think is going to be pretty cool."
A change the Badgers apparently won't make is wearing red pants.
"Of course, the AD has to approve of it," Bielema said of Barry Alvarez. "We know he doesn't like change. I guarantee you we won't be wearing red pants, I know that. Everything else is kind of up for grabs."
Practice time reduced
Bielema is shortening bowl practices, anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. He said all practices now will be limited to 90 minutes.
"We want shorter, crisper, faster practices," he said.
Another change is players will do conditioning after six of the 14 practices to help prepare for the speed of the Ducks' up-tempo offense.
"We've never done post-practice conditioning," Bielema said. "Obviously, we've had a lot of success, so I think the plan works. For this game, with maybe these shorter practices, we will emphasize conditioning at the end of practice ... have them be in condition for that type of offense."
Packers spy on Ewing
Fullback Bradie Ewing, a former walk-on from Richland Center, has apparently impressed the Green Bay Packers scouts who have been through to evaluate players.
Bielema said he told running backs coach Thomas Hammock, "I don't know if I can tell Bradie Ewing the Packers were looking at him, because he might faint."