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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Rodgers able to throw in Packers' practice

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GREEN BAY - He can throw, but he can take a hit?  We still didn’t know the answer to that question early this afternoon, while Aaron Rodgers was at practice for Sunday’s Green Bay Packers’ game at Dallas. 

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Rodgers appeared playful, jogged around, and threw left-handed passes while exercising his injured left collarbone and shoulder.  That was all during the early part of the practice that was open to the media.  It was not immediately known whether Rodgers practiced at all with the Number-One offense like he did for at least a while yesterday.  As of 24 hours ago, Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers had not been medically cleared to return – and until that happens, he won’t play.  Updates were expected from both McCarthy and Rodgers at news conferences this afternoon.

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Green Bay Packers' running back Eddie Lacy is not letting a concussion, asthma, and an ankle injury get in the way of a standout rookie season.  Despite missing almost two full games, Lacy is on pace to rush for 11-hundred-29 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season.  He's at 887 yards and seven scores going into Sunday's Packer game at Dallas.  Lacy broke Green Bay's previous rookie record of six rushing touchdowns set by Samkon Gado in 2005.  And Lacy has 227 carries, breaking John Brockington's rookie team mark of 216 back in 1971.  What's more, Lacy has a knack for breaking tackles.  Pro Football Focus said he broke five tackles in last Sunday's home win over Atlanta -- and 44 of his 65 rushing yards came after his first contact with a defender.  Lacy is fourth in the NFL with 48 missed tackles forced by his defenders, and he's 10th in the league with almost two-and-a-half yards after his first hit.

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Tony Romo knows exactly what Aaron Rodgers is going through.  The Dallas Cowboys' quarterback and Racine County native broke his left collarbone in the 2010 season, and he missed the Cowboys' final 10 games.  Romo, who's from Burlington, told Wisconsin reporters it's really hard to determine when a player can come back from a broken clavicle.  He said it's impossible to play when there's any discomfort -- but even without pain, he says the risk of a re-injury is very high unless the bone is totally healed.  Unlike Rodgers, Romo's collarbone was displaced.  At first, he was told it would take 6-to-8 weeks to recover -- but Romo said it was 10 weeks before he could do what he wanted to do on the field.  At the time, Dallas was out of the playoff picture so there was no hurry to bring him back.  The Packers are in a more urgent team situation.  They still have a chance to win the N-F-C North Division, as they're a half-game behind both Detroit and Chicago going into this weekend.  The Packers are 6-6-1, and they'll take on a 7-6 Cowboys team in Arlington, Texas.

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The Texas Rangers apparently hoping that former University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson will resume his baseball career – at some point.  The Rangers claimed Wilson this morning in the Major League Rule-Five Draft, after the Colorado Rockies had left him unprotected.  Wilson, who was a second baseman, gave up a baseball career to finish his college eligibility at Wisconsin – where he played quarterback in the Rose Bowl, and later became the starter for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks the past two seasons.  Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels noted this week that Wilson wanted to come to Spring Training in Arizona next spring to work out.  Wilson said he was thrilled at today’s move, but he’ll stay under center at Seattle.  The Rangers paid 12-thousand dollars to take Wilson – and he’ll go on the club’s restricted list because of his playing status in the NFL. ____________________

The Milwaukee Brewers chose three players this morning in Major League Baseball's Rule-Five Draft.  They are left-hander Wei-Chung Wang from the Pittsburgh organization -- center-fielder Kevin Mattison from the Miami system -- and third baseman Vinnie Catricala from the Oakland minor league system.  The Brewers did not lose anybody to another team in the Rule-Five Draft, in which teams can choose from any other team's list of unprotected players.  The Brewers must pay Pittsburgh, Miami, and Oakland 50-thousand dollars apiece for the privilege of drafting the three players.  They must remain on the Brewers' big league roster for all of next season, or else they must be offered back to their original teams at half-price.  Brewers' pro scouting director Zack Minasian made the 21-year-old Wang their first pick.  He has only pitched one year of pro ball, that being in the Gulf Coast League's rookie level.  However, Minasian says Wang is very poised and under control -- and he comes from Taiwan, where pitchers are very technical in their pitching habits.  Wang pitched in 12 games last year, all but one in a starting role.  He went 1-3 with an ERA of almost 3.25.____________________

Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke says he doesn't need to hear the specifics about Ryan Braun's PED use from 2011 to support his five-time All-Star.  At Baseball's Winter Meetings, Roenicke said Braun made a mistake but quote, "This is a really good young man.  If you are okay with people making mistakes, which I certainly am, you've got to look at what kind of person this guy is.  This is a good guy."  Roenicke said Braun knows he'll be booed by crowds on the road, and maybe by home fans at Miller Park.  The skipper said animosity at home will probably disappear the better Braun plays.  Roenicke said Braun took a positive step two weeks ago when he spoke with reporters. He refused to address or deny the national media reports that he was on a PED regimen from the former Bio-Genesis clinic for much of the 2011 season.  Roenicke also said Braun's move to right field next year will be a new venture, and he's got skills to do well there.  Khris Davis will take over Braun's old spot in left._____________________

The Milwaukee Bucks did not lose their shot-blocking ability when Larry Sanders broke his right thumb in a nightclub brawl in early November.  Replacement John Henson is starting to come into his own as a key shot rejecter.  Henson, a second-year pro, averages two-point-one blocks per game.  That’s the fourth-highest in the league.  Anthony Davis is the leader with three-point-six blocks a night.  Henson had six blocks on Tuesday night in a Milwaukee victory at Chicago, and coach Larry Drew said Henson was in a position to block one-or-two more shots.  Drew said he wants Henson to be relentless around the basket every time down the floor, and not relax on any possessions.  Drew said shot-blocking is a matter of timing, and Henson’s got it down.  Last season, Sanders had 10 blocks in Minnesota as part of a triple-double – and observers say Henson has the chance to do the same.______________________ Milwaukee Bucks' guard Gary Neal expects to return in a few days from a sore left heel.  Neal said he received a cortisone shot on Tuesday.  He was hoping to play against his old San Antonio team last night, but it wasn't in the cards.  Neal said he tried warming up, but the pain got to be too much.  Neal played for the Spurs the last three seasons, and he was a main cog off the bench last season when San Antonio lost to Miami in the NBA Finals.  Neal said he still talks with players from the Spurs, who crushed the Bucks 109-77 last night.  It dropped Milwaukee's record to 5-and-17.  They'll host Chicago tomorrow night._______________________

Only two games are on tonight’s schedule in Wisconsin college basketball.  Both are women’s contests in Division-Three.  Lakeland hosts Concordia-Wisconsin in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.  And the Maranatha Baptist women will host Moody Bible College in Watertown._______________________ Tony Starnes of UW-Oshkosh and Logan Andryk of the Milwaukee School of Engineering have been named the Wisconsin Division III college soccer co-players-of-the-year.  Andryk, a sophomore forward, and Starnes, a senior forward, were also named to the coaches’ All-State first team.  Starnes was the WIAC player-of-the-year with nine goals including four game-winners.  Andryk was the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Player-of-the-Year with 38 points and five game-winning goals.  Michael Dombrowski of Carthage was named the All-State offensive player-of-the-year.  Jacob Pope of Concordia-Wisconsin won the top award on defense.  Joe Mooney of UW-Superior is the Coach-of-the-Year.________________________ 

UW-Whitewater linebacker Cole Klotz remains in contention for the Gagliardi Trophy.  He's one of four finalists for the Division III equivalent of the Heisman.  Mount Union quarterback Kevin Burke, Middlebury quarterback McCallum Foote, and Western Connecticut running back Octavius McKoy are the other finalists.  They'll all be at a banquet next Wednesday night when the winner is announced in Salem Virginia.  Klotz, a senior from New Berlin, is the WIAC's player-of-the-year.  He's the leading tackler on a Whitewater defense that's the nation's second-stingiest in scoring.  The Warhawks have given up just eight points a game this year.   Burke and Klotz are playing in the Division III semi-finals on Saturday.  Klotz and his Whitewater team will play at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, while Mount Union hosts North Central of suburban Chicago.  The winners will travel to Salem next week for the D-III title game, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl.  ________________________

Black River Falls native Jack Taylor of Grinnell made the national Division-Three men's basketball Team-of-the-Week from D3hoops.com.  Taylor, a junior guard, scored 40 points in Grinnell's overtime loss to Saint Norbert last weekend.  And he scored 41 in a 30-point rout of Monmouth.  Taylor made 15 three-pointers in those two outings.  Last month, Taylor scored 109 points in a 50-point Grinnell victory over Crossroads College.  A year ago, he broke an NCAA scoring record with 138 points in a game.________________________

UW-Milwaukee has received a pair of weekly Horizon League honors for swimming and diving.  Emily McClellan was named the women’s swimmer-of-the-week, and K.J. Heger received the men’s diving honors.  The senior McClellan broke UWM and Horizon League records in three individual events at the Iowa Hawkeye Invite – the 100-and-200 breast-strokes and the 200 individual medley.  McClellan also helped four UWM relay teams get the league’s fastest times this fall -- the 200, 400, and 800-freestyle relays, and the 400-medley relay.  Heger, a junior, took second in the platform dive at the Iowa event with 315-and three-quarter points, breaking a UWM record that stood since 2005. _________________________

University of Wisconsin women's hockey senior Madison Packer has been named the WCHA's co-offensive player of the week.  She shares the honor with Rachael Bona of Minnesota.  Both scored hat tricks in league contests last weekend.  Packer had a total of four goals and two assists in a pair of Wisconsin victories over Bemidji State. _________________________

UW-Madison will continue to host the NCAA Great Lakes cross country regionals.  The Wisconsin Badgers were selected yesterday to host the event in 2014, '15, and '16, after serving as the host the previous two seasons.  The meet is held at the Zimmer Championship Course, located next to the UW's University Ridge golf course at Verona.  It has running loops of a-thousand meters and 25-hundred meters with plenty of hills, valleys, and wooded areas. Just over 30 teams compete at the Madison Regional.  It's one of nine in men's-and-women's cross country each fall.  __________________________

University of Wisconsin sophomore Nic Kerdiles has been given his first weekly honors in the new Big Ten men's hockey conference.  Kerdiles was named the league's "first star" for last week, after getting two goals and two assists in the Badgers' two-game sweep of Penn State.  The Big Ten is using the same three-star system that the National Hockey League uses each night for recognizing its top players.  Jake Hildebrand of Michigan State was given the "second star" for the week.  Justin Kloos of Minnesota is the league's "third star." 

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Sean Scallon
Sean Scallon has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the Pierce County Herald newspaper in Ellsworth since 1998. He holds a bachelors degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's also worked at newspapers in Glenwood City, Wisconsin; Marion, Illinois and Shawano, Wisconsin. Sean also works as a sports reporter for other newspapers and websites in RiverTown Multimedia from River Falls to Hudson to New Richmond and Red Wing.
(715) 273-4334
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