WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Jones and Neal both questionable for Browns' game
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers’ receiver James Jones and linebacker Mike Neal are both listed as questionable for Sunday’s home game against Cleveland. That means there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll play.
Neither starter practiced today, for the third day in a row. Neal has a bruised shoulder, and Jones has a sprained knee ligament suffered last weekend at Baltimore. Coach Mike McCarthy said neither of those players, plus corner Jarrett Bush, would be able to play if the game was today – but they still have two days to try and get ready. Corner Casey Hayward is also questionable with the hamstring that has prevented him from playing at all during the regular season. Inside linebacker Brad Jones has been ruled out for the Browns contest with his bad hamstring. That means Jamari Lattimore will make another start in Jones’ place. The Packers take a 3-and-2 record into Sunday’s contest against the Browns – who are 3-3. Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley confirmed today that he was fined for a hard hit on Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs last Sunday. Receiver James Jones said on a Green Bay radio show that Finley had to pay 21-thousand dollars for the hit. Finley said he planned to appeal it.
Former Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop has been put on season-ending injured reserve. He was starting his first game for the division-rival Minnesota Vikings last Sunday when he tore the ACL in his left knee against the Carolina Panthers. The Vikings filled Bishop’s roster spot by promoting rookie receiver Rodney Smith from the team’s practice squad. The Packers released Bishop in June, and he almost immediately signed with Minnesota. He played in all five Viking games this year – the first four in a reserve role. Bishop missed all of his final season with Green Bay with a hamstring injury suffered in an exhibition game. Bishop was planning to play against his old team a week from Sunday night in Minneapolis, and again on November 24th at Lambeau Field.
University of Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks says he expects a heavy dose of Wisconsin’s running game tomorrow night at Champaign. The 25th-ranked Badgers have the nation’s fifth-best rushing attack with 298 yards on the ground per game. Banks says quote, “They’re going to pound, pound, pound until you wear down.” Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is the nation’s third-best running back with 195 yards a game. Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown says the Badgers might be “the gold standard” for running the ball – but Wisconsin also has a mean passing game as well. Quarterback Joel Stave has the nation’s fourth-highest average for passing yards with 216 per game. One thing the Badgers don’t have, though, is a road victory. Coach Gary Andersen says teams can never describe themselves as being great unless they can win on the road. Both of Wisconsin’s road losses came away from Madison, against Arizona State and Ohio State. The Badgers have won four times at home, most recently against Northwestern 35-6. They’re 2-1 in Big Ten play. Illinois hopes to even its 0-1 conference record.
Wisconsin NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth is still in first place as the second half of the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins on Sunday at Talladega Alabama. Kenseth has a slim four-point lead over Jimmie Johnson going into the Camping World RV Sales 500, the sixth event in the 10-race season-ending Chase for the championship in NASCAR’s top circuit. Only 43 points separate the top-five drivers in the standings. Qualifying takes place tomorrow for Sunday’s event. Paul Menard of Eau Claire is also entered, along with Beloit-born Danica Patrick and Travis Kvapil of Janesville. The NASCAR truck series is back in action with the Fred’s 250 tomorrow at Talladega. Qualifying takes place late today. Johnny Sauter of Necedah is eighth in the truck standings, 103 points behind front-running Matt Crafton. The Nationwide Series is off this weekend.
The Milwaukee Admirals will play their American Hockey League home opener tonight against defending league champion Grand Rapids. The Admirals are 1-0-1-0, after losing at Abbotsford last Friday night and winning a 2-1 shootout against the same opponent last Saturday. Grand Rapids comes in at 2-0-1-0. The Griffins have scored at least three times in every game so far. Milwaukee will host the Chicago Wolves tomorrow night.
Two Wisconsin teams lost this morning in the semi-finals of the Midwest Conference women’s team tennis tournament in Rockford, Illinois. Carroll of Waukesha lost to Lake Forest, 5-1. Carroll’s only victory came in the Number-two doubles’ match, when Julia Patzin and Alison Lambrecht defeated Lexi Chionis and Grace Dowling 9-8, 7-5. In the other semi-final, Saint Norbert of De Pere fell to defending league champion Grinnell 5-3. Grinnell and Lake Forest are playing for the Midwest team title this afternoon. Individual singles’ and doubles’ championships will be played tomorrow and Sunday in Madison at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
Four football teams are tied for first place in the WIAC, and two of them will square off tomorrow. UW -Platteville, which is ranked seventh by D3football.com, travels to Stevens Point. Both are 2-0 in league play, along with Oshkosh and Whitewater. Eighth-ranked Oshkosh is at River Falls, and the No. 10 Warhawks host Eau Claire. All four conference leaders are 5-0 overall except for Stevens Point, which is 4-and-1. Also in the WIAC, UW-Stout is home in Menomonie to play La Crosse. In the Midwest Conference, Saint Norbert will try to keep its hold on first place when it plays at Lawrence of Appleton. The Green Knights are 5-0, a half-game up on Illinois College and a game ahead of Lake Forest. Ripon plays at Grinnell tomorrow. Beloit College hosts Illinois College. Carroll is off. In the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, first-place Lakeland College will host Maranatha Baptist tomorrow in Plymouth. Lakeland is 2-and-0 in league play, and Concordia-Mequon is a half-game back at 1-0, and they're at Concordia-Chicago. Wisconsin Lutheran host Aurora. In the CCIW, Carthage hosts 23rd-ranked Illinois Wesleyan.
At the girls' state high school tennis tournament, three-of-the-four top seeds are playing their first matches today. All four Number-Ones received first-round byes yesterday, as the individual tournament got underway at UW-Madison. The Division 1 singles' group was the only one to play their second round. Two-time defending champion Elizabeth Konon of Mequon Homestead won her opening match over Nina Gerard of Nicolet 7-5, 6-3. The Division 1 singles started with Sweet-16 round today. The same was true Division 2 singles' and doubles.' Division-One doubles had 32 teams competing today. State titles for all four groups will be decided tomorrow.
The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team will play at Boston College tonight and Boston University tomorrow night. It's part of the first-ever Big Ten-Hockey East Conference Challenge. The Badgers are ranked second in both major national polls. They're 2-0 for the first time in nine years, after sweeping Northern Michigan at home last weekend. Boston College is 1-1. The Eagles are led by forward Johnny Gaudreau, who had a goal and three assists in his first two contests. He scored 21 goals last season, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Wisconsin's Saturday opponent, Boston University, is 2-0. The Terriers have their top six scorers back from a year ago. On the women's side, fourth-ranked Wisconsin returns from a bye week to host Saint Cloud State tonight and tomorrow afternoon. The Badgers are 2-2 in league play, after getting swept at top-ranked Minnesota last weekend.