Packers: Would be ‘major challenge’ to get OLB Vince Biegel ready for the season

Vince Biegel hasn’t practiced or played since the Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp in May. And it doesn’t appear as though the former Wisconsin star will get a chance to get on the field anytime soon.

Speaking after Tuesday’s practice, linebackers coach Winston Moss told reporters that getting Biegel ready for the regular season — after he spent training camp on the physically unable to perform list — would not be easy.

“A major challenge,” Moss said of getting Biegel up to speed before hinting that if he did make the 53-man roster any action he might get would be in specialized situations. “We wouldn’t call upon him to do something out of his range, out of his comfort zone [or] something he’s not ready for.”

Biegel played outside linebacker for most of his career at Wisconsin, so it would seem he’d have a easier time catching up than someone just learning the position. But even if he had all the technical aspects of it down, Moss said getting him into game shape would take time.

“We’re going to coach the guys that we have right now,” Moss said. “Vince, even though he wants to get out there — I want him to get out there, you guys want him to get out there — we’ll just take it as it comes.”

If Biegel stays on the PUP past the preseason, the earliest he could return would be after Week 6.

A fourth-round pick in April’s NFL draft, the Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., native was among the few additions to the Packers pass rush in an offseason that saw outside linebackers Julius Peppers and Datone Jones leave in free agency.

On Tuesday, starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, along with reserve Jayrone Elliott, were held out of practice for precautionary reasons as all three dealt with minor ailments.

But the lack of bodies and reliable pieces at the position led the Packers to bring in 33-year-old Ahmad Brooks for a visit on Tuesday. He was most recently with the San Francisco 49ers and it sounded as if Moss wants him in the mix.

“Tough [and] physically imposing. A (pass) rusher. Can play really well against the run. Can play stout versus a tight end. He can do everything that we’d ask him to do in our scheme,” Moss said.

Packers get key players back, others still remain out

The Green Bay Packers didn’t start their practice yesterday till the afternoon, but saw lots of names return to the practice field.

Damarious Randall and Malachi Dupre both returned to the field yesterday, after both suffered concussions on questionable hits in the first preseason game against the Eagles.

Ty Montgomery also was back at practice after suffering a lower body soft tissue injury. He was listed as a limited participant. Montgomery hopes to get some playing time this Saturday against the Denver Broncos.

The Packers also got Wide receiver Colby Pearson and Tight end Cody Peck back at practice.

Jayrone Elliott was the lone Packer to come down with an injury in yesterday’s practice. The Packers were depending on the fourth year player out of Toledo to have more of an impact at outside linebacker this season.

Players still being held out of practice were Davon House (hamstring), Jermaine Whitehead (hip), Demetri Goodson (knee), William Stanback (hamstring), Derrick Mathews (concussion), Jordan Tripp (Concussion), and Don Barclay (Ankle).

Dean Lowry, Vince Biegel, and Montravius Adams were also out of practice and are all likely to miss the rest of training camp and potentially the season opener.

Biegel to miss more time

According to a report by Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky, Packers linebacker Vince Biegel will not be practicing this week or playing this weekend against the Denver Broncos.

Biegel hasn’t been able to play in any preseason games or participate in a practice since having surgery on his foot during rookie minicamp.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said if he’s able to practice at all before the regular season, it wouldn’t be until the last week of preseason work.

If he is unable to practice before the start of the regular season he would be PUP list eligible. If he starts the season on the PUP list he won’t be able to play until after week six.

Badgers and Packers fans will have to continue to wait to get their first look at Biegel this season.

Top pick Kevin King sits out of practice, joins a number of injured top draft picks

The Green Bay Packers top pick Kevin King sat out this morning’s practice due to a shoulder injury. King still showed up to the practice, which hopefully means it’s not serious. King had been practicing earlier this training camp as a starting corner for the Packers. Quinten Rollins filled in at corner in place of King this morning.

With King out due to injury, it means that three of the Packers top four picks are now sidelined with injuries to start training camp. Packers third-round pick DT Montravius Adams will miss multiple weeks after having surgery on his foot Tuesday.

Vince Biegel, the Packers fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin is also sitting out of camp. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). Biegel had surgery on his foot shortly after rookie camp in May. The Packers expect to get Biegel back in a couple of weeks.

Vince Biegel, Demetri Goodson to start training camp on the PUP list

Vince Biegel’s first training camp practice will not come for a few weeks.

Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Thursday morning that the former Wisconsin linebacker will start on the Green Bay Packers physically unable to perform list as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery. He’ll be joined there by cornerback Demetri Goodson, who suffered a knee injury in the final regular season game a year ago.

“Both those guys have been here every day I’ve been in here. They’re making progress,” McCarthy said prior. “Vince looks like it’s going to be a couple weeks. Don’t really have a timeline for Demetri.”

Biegel, a fourth-round pick in April’s NFL draft, had surgery after Green Bay’s rookie minicamp. It’s the same foot he injured during his senior year at Wisconsin.

His absence is notable for a number of reasons, including the fact the team lost Julius Peppers and Datone Jones in free agency, leaving them thin at outside linebacker.

“I’m confident in the other guys,” McCarthy said. “We got to get Vince back to 100 percent. We have time.”

LISTEN: Packers coach Mike McCarthy on being smart with the use of Aaron Rodgers

Hand injury ends Vince Biegel’s day early

GREEN BAY — Vince Biegel’s first practice as a member of the Green Bay Packers came to end early on Friday, as the former Wisconsin outside linebacker left midway through the session with what turned out to be a minor injury to a finger on his left hand.

“It’s not too much of a concern. It’s not a season-ending injury by any means,” said Biegel, who underwent X-rays and was still being evaluated by the team’s medical staff. “This is a finger here. My whole body is ready to go. This is football. You get nicks and bruises. I’m not concerned at all about this moving forward.”

Being forced out of practice early was frustrating for Biegel, but he remained upbeat.

“[I’m] disappointed, obviously, that I didn’t get to finish my first practice as a Green Bay Packer,” Biegel said. “Obviously, I was really looking forward to this moment. [But]listen, this is going to be a bumpy road. There’s ups and downs in this journey.”

The injury has been the lone negative for the Wisconsin Rapids native since being selected with the first pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday. A fan of the Packers for his entire life, the week has been one memorable moment after another.

“Given my situation, being from Wisconsin, it was really kind of a surreal moment to check out the locker room…check out the indoor facility, the weight room, the training tables [and the] training room,” Biegel said. “It was a really cool experience. I’m extremely blessed.”

When Biegel walked into the locker room, he found his nameplate and quickly noticed the two players on either side of him in veterans Nick Perry and Clay Matthews, the latter of which has been an inspiration for Biegel throughout his football life and stopped by to welcome him to the team.

“Clay approached me, and it was kind of fun to shake hands with Clay, see him, talk with him,” Biegel said. “It was a guy I looked up to. I’ve taken parts of his game and tried to include it in mine.”

Biegel felt that his locker placement was intentional, placing him between the team’s two best pass rushers and that it meant the coaching staff has high expectations for him. Though the three-year starter for the Badgers is likely reading too much into it, he’ll chase those perceived expectations anyways, and do so with a passion few others possess. That intensity won’t be reserved for the field either, as coach Mike McCarthy and the rest of the staff have learned in just a few days of being around him.

“He drove here. He was the first one here. He sat in the front row [in the first team meeting],” McCarthy said. “He’s off to a great start.”

Packers kick off day 3 by selecting Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel

PHILADELPHIA — The Green Bay Packers were expected to select a Wisconsin linebacker, but instead of T.J. Watt, it was teammate Vince Biegel.

Biegel was taken with the 108th pick to kick off the fourth round of the NFL Draft. In his four years with the Badgers, Biegel racked up 88 solo tackles, including 28.5 for a loss. He was a second team All-Big Ten selection his senior year and a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy.

Green Bay beefs up its pass rush once again, drafting its fourth defensive player of the 2017 Draft. General manager Ted Thompson hinted that day three would be more focused on offensive selections. Green Bay will also have the 28th pick in round four.

T.J. Watt will be in no hurry to decide whether to return for his senior year or declare for the NFL draft

The Cotton Bowl on Monday could mark the end of an era for Wisconsin football.

Every year since 2008 there has been at least one player on the team with the last name of Watt. But in the wake of a breakout junior campaign, the youngest Watt, T.J., could opt to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.

“I’m solely focused on this game, a hundred percent,” Watt said when asked about his plans for 2017. “Everything that comes after this game will come after this game. I’m not worried about the future at all right now.”

If Watt does decide to leave and gets drafted, he’d be following in his two older brother’s footsteps.

J.J. was a standout defensive end after transferring in from Central Michigan prior to the 2008 season. He started for two years, and then passed up his senior year in favor of the draft, a smart move as he went No. 11 overall to the Houston Texans. In his five full years of playing, Watt has earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors three times.

The middle brother, Derek, was a four-year starter at fullback for the Badgers, and was drafted in the fifth round last April by the San Diego Chargers.

Now comes T.J., who in his first year starting at outside linebacker earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition by leading Wisconsin with 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. It was an effort that has ESPN’s draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., listing him among the top-10 draft-eligible outside linebackers, while earlier in the season Sports Illustrated cited two scouts saying he’d receive a second-round grade at a minimum if he came out this year.

“I’m excited about the opportunity of being able to sit down and taking a serious consideration of my options,” Watt said. “At the same time…I don’t think you can look into the NFL and everything else when you’ve got such a big opponent in Western Michigan in a big-time game like this. All my chips are in one basket.”

A year ago, fellow outside linebacker Vince Biegel announced right after the Badgers’ Holiday Bowl win over USC that he would be returning for his senior season. Don’t expect something similar from Watt.

“I don’t think you can put a timetable on something like that, something so serious,” Watt said. “It’ll be a big moment for me whether I come back or whether I go. Definitely going to take some time.”

Players have until Jan. 18 to declare for the draft.

Wisconsin 23, Nebraska 17 (OT): 2-minute drill

Game Balls

Offense: Dare Ogunbowale

Saturday night belonged to the senior running back. He carried the ball just 11 times but ran for a season-high 120 yards, the fourth time he’s topped the century mark in his career, with half of them coming against Nebraska.

Showing patience and some elite quickness, Ogunbowale sliced through the Huskers defense time after time, doing most of his damage on draws, exploiting an aggressive front seven. On his final carry of the night, he followed left tackle Ryan Ramczyk and center Michael Deiter around the edge of the Nebraska defense for an 11-yard touchdown that proved to be the winning score.

Defense: Ryan Connelly, Leon Jacobs

Tasked with trying to replace Jack Cichy, the heart and soul of the defense, the two inside linebackers flew all over the field, finishing with a combined 22 tackles, two tackles for loss and a couple pass break-ups. They weren’t without their flaws — outside linebacker Vince Biegel says they had some communication issues — but put in a difficult situation they played at a very high level.

Special Teams: Corey Clement

It what wasn’t a banner night for the special teams, Clement’s 24-yard punt return in the first quarter stands out. The senior was able to shake off some would-be tacklers and set the offense up with great field position at their own 49-yard line. Two plays later the Badgers were in the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead.

Tweets of the Night

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Video of the Night

Quote of the Day

“There was a sense of calm and confidence that (we) had coming out there.

“We were not going to let another close one — (an) overtime night game — slip by our fingers again.”

Linebacker Vince Biegel on the defense’s mentality as they took the field in overtime with a 6-point lead

In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone joined Nebraska kicker Drew Brown and the rest of the Huskers specialists for their pregame ritual of carrying the late Sam Foltz’s jersey to the sideline. Foltz, a punter at Nebraska, was killed, along with former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler, in a car accident in Wisconsin back in July.

— Redshirt freshman David Edwards, a converted tight end, made his first career start at right tackle in place of the injured Jake Maxwell.

— Cornerback Natrell Jamerson missed his sixth straight game as a result of a leg injury. However, the junior did take part in warm-ups and could be close to returning.

— Former Wisconsin defensive lineman Tim Krumrie was honored during the game for his enshrinement into the College Football Hall of Fame. Krumrie led Wisconsin in tackles in all four years he played, and was named All-Big Ten three times.

— Wisconsin used two different quarterbacks for a second straight week. Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook got the start, but senior Bart Houston played significant reps and was in the game on the Badgers score in overtime. The two combined to 14 of 23 for 114 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

— Junior fullback Austin Ramesh sustained an arm injury in the second half and didn’t return.

Inside the Numbers

6 — That’s the number of freshmen the Badgers had on the field for Bradrick Shaw’s 21-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Along with four redshirt freshmen — Shaw, Hornibrook, Edwards and guard Jon Dietzen — a pair of true freshmen — A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus — were in the game as well.

37.2% — That’s Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s completion percentage in his three games against Wisconsin after managing to hit on just 12 of 31 throws on Saturday night.

3-2 — That’s Wisconsin Big Ten record, leaving them one game behind Nebraska in the West Division. If the Badgers win out, and the Huskers lose any of their final four games, Wisconsin will play for a Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis for the fourth time in six years.

10 — That’s the number of pass break-ups the Wisconsin defense had, including one that led to an interception.

What’s Next?

Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2) will travel down I-90/39 next Saturday to take on Northwestern (4-4, 3-2). The Badgers haven’t won in Evanston since 1999.

Preview: No. 7 Nebraska at No. 11 Wisconsin

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-0, 4-0) vs the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers (5-2 2-2)

The time: 6 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: ESPN with Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge in the booth, and Holly Rowe on the sideline.

The last time: Kicker Rafael Gaglianone hit a 46-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give Wisconsin a 23-21 win last year at Nebraska.

The series: Wisconsin 6-4

The line: Wisconsin -9.5

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

CB Natrell Jamerson (leg)

RT Jake Maxwell (shoulder)

OUT

LB Griffin Grady (shoulder)

NT Olive Sagapolu (arm)

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) One more time

The toughest start to a Big Ten season in school history continues on Saturday night for Wisconsin, as they face their fifth top-10 opponent already this year with Nebraska in town. Asking kids to continually get up for big game after big game would seem like a difficult task but this team is a little different.

“Just taking it one game at a time in all honesty,” linebacker T.J. Watt told the Big Ten Network this week on how they are handling the schedule. “I know it sounds cliché, but you have to take it one practice at a time, one play at a time, and then once it’s game day, you just have to let loose.

“Have fun with this. Not everyone gets to play in big games like this week in and week out like we do. So we just have to have fun and showcase our talents each week.”

2) Next man in — again

The seemingly never ending rash of injuries continued last week for Wisconsin, as they lost leading tackler Jack Cichy for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The junior inside linebacker was playing at such a high level that those around the program felt he was the MVP of the defense through the first seven games.

But just as they did when Chris Orr, Natrell Jamerson, Vince Biegel and Olive Sagapolu went down earlier this year,  the Badgers will ask the next guy to step in and not have a drop-off. This time that responsibility falls to sophomore Ryan Connelly and junior Leon Jacobs.

A former walk-on, Connelly stepped in admirably against LSU in the opener, while Jacobs started the first three games at inside linebacker last year before an injury sidelined him.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing for a talented guy like Jack Cichy to go down,” Biegel said. “But it’s not going to take just Leon and Ryan to step in. It’s also going to take our whole defensive front seven to fill in for guys that go down.”

Connelly is expected to get the first crack at the starting gig, but as Wisconsin has done at outside linebacker, rotating the foursome of Biegel, Watt, Garrett Dooley and Zack Baun, don’t be surprised if Jacobs sees plenty of time next to T.J. Edwards.

3) Which Tommy Armstrong shows up

If Nebraska is to pull the upset, quarterback Tommy Armstrong will need to continue playing at the level he has so far this year. The senior’s quarterback rating of 142.3 is the highest of his career, and he’s averaging an interception just once every 37 throws, the lowest rate of his time in Lincoln.

But he’s done all of that against defenses that aren’t on Wisconsin’s level. And if history is any indication, the Badgers will give Armstrong fits. Two of his worst days as the starter at Nebraska came against UW’s 3-4 scheme. He completed just 16 of 47 throws in the 2014 and 2015 games combined — both Nebraska losses.

If the good Armstrong shows up, Nebraska should be in the game until the end, as he’s got plenty of weapons to get the ball to. But if the Tommy Armstrong of old got on the charter flight to Madison, it’s likely to be a long night for him and the Huskers offense.

4) Running game on track?

The Wisconsin running game has come alive in the past two weeks, piling up 403 yards on the ground, including 298 by running back Corey Clement. The senior’s back-to-back 100-yard games were his first since accomplishing that against Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech in his freshman season.

But it took a lot of carries to get it done. The Badgers called Clement’s number a combined 60 times in the games against Ohio State and Iowa, and if it were up to him, they’d keep giving him the ball even if taking all that contact isn’t ideal in the long term.

“I’m all for it, to be honest,” Clement said. “If they want to give me 35 carries, then so be it. (It’s) my senior season, so I’m ready to get as many carries as I can.”

It’s not just Clement, though. The offensive line is also starting to gel despite not having a clear starting lineup. They used eight guys against Iowa and six different combinations. Obviously, they’d like to find their best five guys, but until they do expect to see similar rotations.

5) The crowd

The buzz leading into the showdown with then-No. 2 Ohio State two weeks ago was at an all-time high, certainly helped by the fact ESPN’s College GameDay was in town, and it was the first Big Ten night game in Madison in five years.  And even though the Badgers lost, the atmosphere surrounding the game didn’t disappoint.

But that same juice and electricity, at least in the lead up to the game, hasn’t been as evident this week. Perhaps it’s because the novelty factor of a night game has worn off or the fact Wisconsin is so heavily favored. No matter what the reason, it’s definitely different.

Now all of this isn’t to say it won’t be a great environment on Saturday night. It will be, and the crowd will definitely help Wisconsin. But expecting something like we saw when the Buckeyes came to town is probably not in the cards.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

  • Wisconsin’s defense has held their last 10 opponents under their season scoring average
  • The Badgers used eight different offensive linemen last week against Iowa and six different offensive line combinations
  • Wisconsin has outscored Nebraska 107 to 41 in their last two meetings at Camp Randall Stadium
  • In their last 13 trophy games, the Badgers are 12-1, including a perfect 2-0 against Nebraska in the battle for the Freedom Trophy

PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 17 (3-4 on the season)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 13 (4-3 on the season)
Jake Zimmermann’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 13 (5-2 on the season)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 13 (4-3 on the season)
Eric Rogers’ prediction: Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 20 (5-2 on the season)