Heading into the season, the Wisconsin Badgers’ linebackers were rated among the best in the nation. ESPN rated them the top group in the Big Ten conference. Bruce Feldman from Fox Sports named them No. 4 in the country.
The deep and talented group took a hit when redshirt sophomore inside linebacker T.J. Edwards injured his foot during summer workouts.
“It was (during) a general workout. It was just a run, kind of one of those freak things that happen,” Edwards toward B5Q on Sunday during Wisconsin’s local media day.
“It’s a broken foot. It is what it is, but I’m hopeful for the first game. I’m not going to rush it — I want to be a 100 percent when I come back. I think I owe it to my teammates to come back at 100 percent.”
Linebacker T.J. Edwards discusses his injury and expectations for the Wisconsin Badgers linebackers.Publicado por Bucky's 5th Quarter em Domingo, 7 de agosto de 2016
Head coach Paul Chryst acknowledged during his press conference earlier on Sunday afternoon that he doesn’t know when or if Edwards will be able to do anything in camp.
“He’s progressing but don’t quite know when he’ll be ready, but he’d be the only guy who might not do much in camp,” Chryst said.
As a redshirt freshman Edwards started all 13 games last season and led Wisconsin in tackles with 84 in his first year at inside linebacker. Luckily, the Badgers have two dependable, proven starters with redshirt junior Jack Cichy and sophomore Chris Orr. The two were fifth and sixth on the team in tackles with 60 and 46, respectively, and the all three were interchangeable at the two inside linebacker spots during the spring.
To spell both Cichy and Orr in Edwards’ absence, Ryan Connelly and Nick Thomas’s workloads may adjust during fall camp. Both players saw substantial time with the first-team defenses during practice last summer, when both Leon Jacobs and Edwards suffered injuries that held them out for periods of time.
“Those two are very eager to play, and I think they’re very capable of playing. They’re just waiting for their shot,” Edwards said of Connelly, a former walk-on, and Thomas.
“I think them being in the two-deep, and making sure Jack and Chris are fresh, I think Nick and Ryan are going to get a lot of time in camp. They’re going to show people what they can do. It’s going to be really fun to see.”
Connelly played in 12 of the 13 games last season, recording 15 tackles while working primarily on special teams. Thomas redshirted after suffering a sports hernia injury similar in fashion to running back Corey Clement last season.
Both worked with the second-team defense primarily during the spring, and Edwards believes they will take advantage of increased practice time in key situations during fall camp.
“They’re building off of each year,” Edwards continued. “We’re all kind of the same in the mental part of the game, and now they’ll be getting those on-the-field reps. It’s going to be really good for them.”