UW football: Once more, injuries interrupt Borland-Taylor pairing

2011-08-17T06:00:00Z 2012-05-23T17:53:36Z UW football: Once more, injuries interrupt Borland-Taylor pairingTOM MULHERN | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 madison.com

Now that sophomore middle linebacker Chris Borland is fully participating in University of Wisconsin football practices, the next step is getting him to work alongside junior Mike Taylor.

It has proven to be more difficult than it sounds.

Borland had a magnetic resonance imaging test done on Friday because of persistent pain in his right shoulder. That's the one that suffered a partially torn labrum and was operated on prior to the Rose Bowl last season.

The test was negative and Borland was cleared to fully participate in Saturday's two practices.

Taylor, meanwhile, who had put together one of his longest streaks of uninterrupted practice during any preseason camp, was held out of the practice on Monday night.

After that practice, UW coach Bret Bielema lumped Taylor in with other players who underwent ACL surgeries in the past, such as free safety Aaron Henry and right tackle Josh Oglesby, and usually don't participate in the second session of two-a-days.

But Taylor was also sidelined for the single practice on Tuesday and was not available afterward for interviews. Neither was Bielema.

"We've been struggling with that, but I love to play with Mike," Borland said. "Hopefully, we're both on the field all year this year."

The coaches were excited about Borland and Taylor playing together last season, but it didn't last long. Taylor missed the opener when he required more knee surgery during camp. He underwent ACL surgery as a redshirt freshman in 2009.

Taylor returned for the second game, but Borland didn't play after aggravating a left shoulder injury in the opener.

The two finally started together in the third game and lasted six plays before Borland suffered the injury to his left shoulder that caused him to be redshirted.

Borland acknowledged he will be forced to play with pain this season, but said he isn't alone in that regard.

"Every football player plays with pain," he said. "You're not healthy pretty much after your first fall camp, completely (healthy). Everybody's got to play with something or other. I'm going to play with pain but that's nothing new."

Borland brings a noticeable spark to the defense when he's on the field. After his first full practice on Saturday, Bielema said Taylor played faster when Borland was on the field.

"I try to (provide a spark)," Borland said. "I think everybody responds pretty well. It's not anything special, just trying to play hard and get after it."

The defense probably had its best practice of camp on Monday morning and Borland was in the middle of it, showing his athleticism by diving to his left for a red-zone interception.

Those are the kinds of plays a healthy Borland can make, even while getting used to a new position after playing outside linebacker the last two years.

"We run some cover-2 and that is demanding on the mike in coverage," Borland said of how deep he has to drop to cover the middle of the field. "I've been working hard at that. I've got a ways to improve in the pass drops for mike, but I think I'm capable. So, yeah, I'd like to contribute."

Borland will do a lot more than that, if healthy, of course. While sitting out in the spring due to the shoulder injuries, he did a lot of studying of his new position. The last few practices have been good because he has been able to put the physical aspects of the position with the mental aspects.

"Physically doing it is different," Borland said. "I understood it coming in but you've got to go through it physically. ... It's fitting blocks, fitting runs, you come from different angles, too. That was an adjustment, but it's not too much different. It's still linebacker."

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