Plenty can and will change in the next five-plus months before the University of Wisconsin opens its 2018 season against Western Kentucky. Tuesday's first spring practice, however, gave a glimpse of how the Badgers' revamped defense, which must replace seven starters, may shape up come Week 1.
At outside linebacker, where both starters from 2017 departed, Andrew Van Ginkel and Zack Baun took first-team reps during drills, with Tyler Johnson and Noah Burks making up the second unit.
Van Ginkel's presence in the starting lineup is expected after the impact he made as the Badgers' third man at the position last year, but Baun slotted in ahead of Johnson and others after missing all of last season with a foot injury.
"It's been good to see him be able to do everything," UW coach Paul Chryst said of Baun. "I thought Zack was doing some really good things, and then he gets the injuries or setbacks. I've been proud of the way he's handled all that. I'm looking forward to, certainly you want to see him stay healthy, but it's really good to have him out here."
Arrington Farrar, who switched to outside linebacker from inside linebacker this offseason, also took some second-team reps with Christian Bell. Mike Maskalunas joined Chris Orr as second-team inside linebackers behind returning starters T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly.
With Dontye-Carriere-Williams (abdominal) out Tuesday, Madison Cone and Faion Hicks took first-team reps, with Caesar Williams and true freshman Donte Burton at the No. 2 spots. When UW ran a nickel package during 7-on-7 drills, Cone moved to the slot with Hicks and Williams on the outside.
Safety D'Cota Dixon (right shoulder) will miss the entire spring, resulting in Patrick Johnson and Scott Nelson taking first-team reps during drills with Eric Burrell and Seth Currens running with the twos.
Isiaiahh Loudermilk, Garrett Rand and Olive Sagapolu took the first-team reps at defensive line as expected. Keldric Preston and David Pfaff were the first defensive ends in after Loudermilk and Rand, while true freshman Bryson Williams took the second-team nose tackle reps. Aaron Vopal replaced Preston for some of those second-team reps.
From the infirmary
The Badgers will be without a number of key players this spring.
Dixon, wide receiver Quintez Cephus (right leg), offensive linemen Michael Deiter (right leg) and Jon Dietzen (right/left leg), running backs Bradrick Shaw (left leg) and Garrett Groshek (right leg), tight end Zander Neuville (right leg) and inside linebacker Mason Stokke (right leg) won't participate in practices over the next six weeks.
Carriere-Williams, wide receivers Danny Davis (abdominal) and Cade Green (left leg) and running back Mark Saari (abdominal) also sat out Tuesday, while fullback Jake Collinsworth (left leg) was limited.
With Deiter and Dietzen out Tuesday and Patrick Kasl leaving practice early due to class, Cole Van Lanen (left tackle) and Jason Erdmann (left guard) took first-team reps. The second-team unit included Tyler Beach (LT), Logan Bruss (LG), Kayden Lyles (C), Micah Kapoi (RG) and David Moorman (RT). ... Cone changed his number from 24 to 31 for Tuesday's practice. ... Kare Lyles took reps at quarterback before Jack Coan during 7-on-7 drills.