MADISON, Wis. - Ever since news of David Gilbert's foot injury broke, his return has been up in the air. Originally, the Wisconsin coaching staff thought he would return to action against Ohio State, or maybe Minnesota. But as time and games went by, it became clear that Gilbert would not be at full strength if he came back this year.
And on Thursday after practice, head coach Bret Bielema confirmed that Gilbert would sit out the rest of the year on a medical redshirt. But Bielema said there are positives to the move.
"If he would have played [against Nebraska], [he] would not have that option," Bielema said.
Gilbert's redshirt means that he will have two years of eligibility left after this season, and will return to lead the defensive line next year with Brendan Kelly.
"He's always upbeat. He doesn't think about the negatives. It's all about the positives for him," Bielema said. "The great thing is, I think about him two years from now, it's a pretty good visual. To see that body keep getting bigger and stronger."
Gilbert will also take part in a sort of mini-camp with other redshirting players, including cornerback Devin Smith.
"We've got a number of guys we feel have to have huge developments, so from the start of next week we've got a six-week program that [strength coach Ben Herbert] put together," Bielema said. "It's gonna be like trying to get a mini-summer in there."
Luckily for the Badgers, Kelly has emerged as a reliable starter in Gilbert's place. But even if the Badgers were aching for extra pass rush this year, Bielema said he wouldn't have pushed Gilbert to come back.
"We wouldn't have pushed David in any direction just to get another guy out there," Bielema said.
-- Melvin Gordon will also take a medical redshirt this season, after developing a groin injury. Gordon initially wanted to come back and play this season, but Bielema said Gordon hadn't made enough progress to come back so soon.
-- Jared Abbrederis practiced both on both Wednesday and Thursday, and will be ready to go on both offense and punt returns. Kick returns are still questionable, but if Abbrederis can't go Kenzel Doe will take his spot.
News and Notes
-- The Badgers had to practice indoors the last two days, to accommodate the WIAA football championships. The weather report doesn't look good for Saturday's game, so the staff wetted down the ball in practice to simulate using a slippery ball.
-- Former Badgers defensive end J.J. Watt was at practice today, and got to see his younger brother Derek in a Badger uniform for the first time. Watt's Houston Texans have a bye this week.
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