(Update) WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Starks a candidate to be cut from Packers?
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers’ longest-serving running back could be on the bubble for an Opening Day roster spot.
Fifth-year pro James Starks was the fourth running back to appear in last Saturday night’s exhibition win at Saint Louis – and he’s been fifth on the pecking order at practice this week. Running backs’ coach Alex Van Pelt cautioned reporters not to take too much stock in the rotation this week. He said Starks started the first pre-season game, and the coaches are trying to give more snaps to some of their other candidates. Starks did not play well against the Rams as he failed to pick up a blitz on one play, and he fumbled the ball out of bounds on another play for a two-yard loss. There’s been talk that the Packers might try to trade Starks or third-year pro Alex Green before the final roster cuts 10 days from now. The Packers’ top two running backs appear to be rookie Eddie Lacy and second-year pro DuJuan Harris, who’s coming back from knee and lung injuries. Meanwhile, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed yesterday’s practice with a cold. He’s due back today.
Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy says he wants to ease second-year corner Casey Hayward back into the swing of things. Hayward practiced yesterday for the first time since the opening day of Training Camp in late July. He’s been getting over a severely-pulled hamstring. Hayward said he wouldn’t be on the practice field if he wasn’t 100-percent, but he understands that he has some bugs to work out. Hayward is not expected to play in Friday night’s home exhibition contest against Seattle. He could get some playing time in the final pre-season game next week – and he definitely hopes to be ready for the regular season opener on September 8th at San Francisco.
Former University of Wisconsin offensive lineman John Moffitt has been traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Cleveland Browns. In exchange, the Browns sent defensive lineman Brian Sanford to the Pacific Northwest. Cleveland needed a guard, since both Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao are expected to miss the first few games of the regular season. Browns’ coach Rob Chudzinski called Moffitt a “tough and versatile” lineman. Seattle drafted Moffitt in the third round in 2011. He started his first nine games as a rookie, before getting a knee injury that ended his first season. He also had elbow surgery that year, and was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. His agent said Moffitt took Adderall to reduce hyper-activity. Last year, Moffitt started the final six games to help Seattle make the NFC Playoffs.
After having neck surgery in February, Michael Caputo could start the season as Wisconsin’s No. 1 free safety. Coach Gary Andersen says the redshirt sophomore has shown toughness and a big desire to play. However, Andersen notes the Badgers will rotate four safeties and take six on their travel roster. Strong safety Dezmen Southward is the only returning starter in the Badgers’ secondary. Redshirt freshmen Leo Musso and Michael Trotter are the others in the rotation. Trotter started three games for Wisconsin last season. Caputo started once. He’s had neck pains dating back to high school. Doctors found a protruding disc from his spinal column. Caputo was inactive for three months after his February operation.
Milwaukee Bucks’ general manager John Hammond says center Larry Sanders has developed into one of the NBA’s top defensive players – and he’ll be a vital part of the team’s future plans. Hammond announced yesterday that the 24-year-old Sanders signed a four-year contract extension worth $44-million. It kicks in next summer, after Sanders completes his four-year rookie contract which pays him three-million dollars this season. Sanders was a backup in his first two years with the Bucks, before he evolved as the starting center last season. He tied a team record with 10 blocked shots against Minnesota, and he finished third in the media voting for the NBA Most Improved Player award. Sanders averaged almost three blocks a game last season, along with 10 points and nine-and-a-half rebounds.
David Roesch of Germantown is the leader at the halfway point of the State Open golf tournament. Roesch shot a five-under-par 67 yesterday at Tuckaway Country Club in Franklin. He’s at seven-under-137 after 36 holes, two strokes ahead of Brady Strangstalien of Madison – who won last year’s State Amateur and has since turned pro. The 38-year-old Roesch appeared to have a shot at the PGA Tour in 2004, when he made the cut at the U.S. Open. It never happened, but Roesch says he’s happy with how things turned out. He now has a successful business as a teaching pro – and he says he really enjoys seeing his students get better.
UW-Whitewater is the pre-season favorite to win the WIAC volleyball title this fall. The Warhawks received 10 first-place votes in a poll of the league’s coaches and sports information directors. Whitewater junior Kim Frei was sixth in the NCAA’s Division III last year with 11 assists per set. Her team is ranked 13th in the national coaches’ pre-season poll for Division III. Eau Claire is projected to take second in the conference. UW-Stevens Point, which won the league’s regular season crown a year ago, is picked for third, followed by River Falls and Oshkosh.
Laura Knudsen has resigned as the men’s-and-women’s track coach at UW-Stout – and one of her assistants, Kyle Steiner, will replace her in both programs. Knudsen was the Blue Devils’ coach for five years. Steiner has been an assistant at Stout for the last three seasons, creating national contenders in multi-event competitions like the decathlon and heptathlon. Knudsen, the former Laura Verdegan, will remain in Menomonie with her family. She starred in college at Stout, winning the national Division III triple jump title in 2004. Knudsen also won 12 All-American track-and-field honors, and was a two-time all-WIAC performer in women’s basketball.