T.J. Edwards has ditched his walking boot, but the University of Wisconsin inside linebacker has only so much more time to prepare for the Badgers’ season opener against LSU on Sept. 3 at Lambeau Field.
Edwards, who led UW with 84 tackles last year as a redshirt freshman, suffered a stress fracture in his left foot this summer and has not practiced at all this fall.
While he’s still optimistic about playing against the Tigers, Edwards feels he needs to practice by the end of this week if he wants to avoid re-evaluating those expectations.
“From Day 1, my goal is to play (against LSU),” Edwards said Saturday. “I don’t think that goal has changed. If we’re a week out from the game and I haven’t stepped foot on the practice field, then I might reconsider; maybe I’m not ready yet. But I’m hoping to get back out here pretty soon.”
UW has depth at the position, with Chris Orr and Jack Cichy taking first-team reps at inside linebacker in Edwards’ absence.
Edwards showed last year he can be a difference-maker, though, and the Badgers could certainly use a player of his caliber in their attempts to slow down LSU running back and Heisman Trophy contender Leonard Fournette.
UW defensive coordinator and inside linebacker coach Justin Wilcox also feels Edwards needs at least some practice time before stepping onto Lambeau Field.
“He’s got to play some football,” Wilcox said. “I don’t think you come back from that type of injury and your first snap is in a game. I think you’ve got to get some reps. Now, the number, it just depends on the person.
“He’s doing everything he can possibly do in the meeting rooms, treatment center, strength and conditioning. So when he’s able to play, we’ll get him back going. How many reps is that? I don’t know if I can answer that with any confidence.”
QB battle continues
Senior quarterback Bart Houston looked like the better passer for the second straight open practice in his competition with redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook.
Houston completed 13 of 23 passes during team drills that included a 73-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Love, but he also overthrew an open Robert Wheelwright in the end zone on third down during red-zone drills.
Houston also connected with A.J. Taylor and Troy Fumagalli for deep passes during 7-on-7 drills.
Hornibrook completed 13 of 21 passes during team drills. He threw an impressive deep ball to George Rushing that went for a 67-yard touchdown but also threw two interceptions.
Hornibrook threw four total touchdowns to Houston’s two, but one of Hornibrook’s came on an easy throw against a blown coverage.
From the infirmary
Left tackle Ryan Ramczyk left the field with a left leg injury and wore a walking boot after practice, but his injury isn’t seen as serious, according to a UW official.
It’s another minor worry for the Badgers’ starting offensive line after left guard Dan Voltz (knee) and right tackle Jacob Maxwell (foot) rested again to manage old injuries.
Outside linebacker Vince Biegel missed practice with a left leg injury, although that’s also not considered to be serious.
Cornerback Natrell Jamerson (left leg) and offensive lineman David Edwards (left shoulder) were also out, while freshman cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams (right leg) returned.
Wide receivers Quintez Cephus (right leg) and Henry Houden (head), offensive linemen George Panos (right shoulder) and Logan Schmidt (head), inside linebacker Mason Stokke (head) and running back Bradrick Shaw (right leg) remained out. Safety D’Cota Dixon was also given the morning off to rest.
Wide receiver Kendric Pryor (left arm) and fullback Austin Ramesh (right leg) were still limited.
Wide receiver Jazz Peavy (chest) and running back Taiwan Deal (right arm) were not listed on the injury report but continued to wear yellow, non-contact jerseys.
Former UW wide receiver Krenwick Sanders will transfer to Jacksonville State, according to 247sports.
Sanders played in nine games and caught one pass for 10 yards in 2014 as a true freshman before redshirting last season.
He did not make the 105-man fall camp roster and was granted his release from UW last Sunday.