Strong safety Shelton Johnson is back at practice for the University of Wisconsin football team, less than a month after breaking his right arm.
But the senior likely won’t return until next week’s game at Purdue.
“Right now, if necessary, I’ll jump in there,” Johnson said wearing a green non-contact jersey in Wednesday’s practice. “But, hopefully, I’ll be able to give it another week to rest it up a little bit more, just to be sure.”
Johnson was initially told he would be out for six to eight weeks after breaking his forearm against Oregon State on Sept. 8. The home game against Illinois on Saturday would be the fourth game he has missed.
“Going from six to eight weeks to only missing three or four games is a huge difference,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who has already used a redshirt year, said he never contemplated his college career might be done.
“I knew it would be awhile (to come back),” he said. “I didn’t think it would be any type of season-ending thing. I didn’t honestly think about that at all, I was just kind of asking what I could do to get it better. I’m more of a forward thinker.”
Johnson wore a protective wrap on the arm during practice and hopes to have it scaled back a bit by next week, so he at least has movement in his wrist.
“It’s kind of hard to play DB without a wrist,” he said.
Growing pains for Trotter
With Johnson out of the lineup, sophomore Michael Trotter has been starting with mixed results.
“He’s been everywhere he’s supposed to be and he’s been pretty consistent with that,” Johnson said. “It’s just actually finishing and making the plays. It has looked like it’s his first year starting. He looks like me, my first year starting, or probably
95 percent of the other people their first year starting.
“It’s a growing process. He’ll get a lot better.”
Trotter gave up two touchdown passes in the 30-27 loss at Nebraska last week and also was called for a costly blow to the helmet.
The first touchdown was a rollout by Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and Trotter lost leverage on running back Rex Burkhead, on the 3-yard pass.
On the second one, a 10-yard touchdown pass on third-and-4, tight end Kyler Reed used his body to shield Trotter, who was called for pass interference.
“I’ve just got to learn to close,” Trotter said. “Sometimes, I’ve just got to trust my reads and just go for it. Two of the touchdowns, I blame on me, it was my accountability.”
Trotter also was called for a hit to the helmet on a 20-yard completion to wide receiver Kenny Bell on the previous series in the third quarter, then missed an open-field tackle on the elusive and speedy Martinez on a 38-yard touchdown run.
Muldoon eyes return
Junior defensive end Pat Muldoon practiced the past two days after having the pins removed from his broken left hand and is expected to play against the Illini.
It will be some welcome depth for a position depleted by injuries, with senior defensive end Brendan Kelly (hamstring) still questionable.
“The past two days I’ve taken all of the reps they’ve given me, it feels good,” Muldoon said after practice. “I have to get used to playing with the club a little bit. Just from (Tuesday) to (Wednesday), I feel a lot more comfortable with it. By game time, it shouldn’t be any problem.”
Kelly has missed three of the past four games. Sophomore Konrad Zagzebski and redshirt freshman Jesse Hayes, the two backups, have improved enough that it’s not a risk putting them on the field.
“Jesse has made a great improvement from fall camp to now, he’s like a completely different player, someone who’s trustworthy out there,” Muldoon said. “ ‘Zagz’ continues to improve, he’s got a lot of good, physical tools.”