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Badger Bits: UW Nearing Full Strength

After a slew of early season injuries, the Badgers are healthy again heading into the thick of conference play.

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Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Injuries have certainly hampered the continuity of the Badgers in the first half of the season. At least seven starters or solid contributors have gone down with injuries, but it appears UW is finally turning the corner and is past the constant biting of the injury bug (*knock on wood*).

Both safety Shelton Johnson and offensive lineman Kyle Costigan return to the starting lineup this week. Johnson broke his arm in the Oregon State game and didn't make his return until last Saturday against Illinois, where he entered the game as a backup to Michael Caputo. Costigan, on the other hand, suffered a knee injury in the Nebraska game, but had microscopic surgery just two days later and will fight through the pain to start at Purdue this week.

Brendan Kelly (hamstring) and Pat Muldoon (thumb) returned to the action in the Illinois game, so both should be full go this weekend. Another key contributor, Peniel Jean, returns this week from a broken foot that sidelined him just before the start of the season. It remains to be seen how much game time Jean will see, but he'll likely fight to retain his old role as the Nickel cornerback.

It's quite remarkable how well the defense has stood up, given the multitude of injuries on that side of the ball. Losing two top defensive backs and dealing with constant injuries on the defensive line — coupled with the loss of Jordan Kohout before the season — makes the stinginess of the defense all that more impressive.

Also, don't forget how Montee Ball and Jared Abbrederis were both limited by concussions earlier in the season.

Injuries are a major obstacle for any team, but hopefully the worst is behind UW, so it can move deep into conference play near full strength.

(Badgers latest depth chart — as of 10/8)

Wednesday's Links:

UW basketball is taking their conditioning to a whole new level.

The list of Heisman candidates from the Big Ten continues to dwindle each week. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller may be the only man left with a legitimate shot.

How Derek Watt is learning to play fullback on the fly.

Wisconsin gained a verbal commit from a three-star cornerback out of Florida, marking what would be the sixth defensive back from Florida on the Badgers' roster.

It hasn't worked out with Notre Dame yet, but Barry Alvarez is still talking with Alabama about a potential future showdown with the Crimson Tide.

Purdue needs to get back on track versus the Badgers after getting dismantled by Michigan on its home field last week.