WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Both Nelson and Cobb entering the final year of their contracts
The Green Bay Packers' two top receivers are both in their contract years. Jordy Nelson says he'd like a new deal before the start of the regular season in September -- while Randall Cobb says he has no control over what happens. Nobody knows whether the Packers will be able to re-up with both standouts, both of whom have said they want to return. Nelson says he's not sure if his agent has started meaningful contract talks yet. Cobb says he doesn't want to know -- and it's all in the hands of his agent and G-M Ted Thompson. Nelson is entering the final season of a three-year, 14-million-dollar extension. The seventh-year pro had his best season in 2013 with 85 catches for 13-hundred-14 yards. Nelson is definitely a bargain for the Packers, with the 34th-highest salary among N-F-L wide-outs. Cobb is entering his fourth season with the Pack, in the final year of his rookie deal. He missed 10 games with a leg injury last season, but he came back in time to help the Packers make the playoffs with a long fourth-down touchdown catch near the end of Green Bay's regular season finale at Chicago. Meanwhile, fans attending this week's O-T-A practices are getting their first look at second-round receiver Davante Adams from Fresno State. He missed last week's workouts while attending the players union's "Rookie Premiere" event.
Packers' coach Mike McCarthy says he will not re-shuffle his offensive line for the second year in a row. Veteran Josh Sitton will stay at left guard, after moving from the right side a year ago. Second-year pro David Bahktiari has established himself at the left tackle spot. McCarthy said Bahktiari is a lot stronger than he was last season. For now, the center's job is up in the air after Evan Dietrich-Smith left for Tampa Bay. T-J Lang stays on at right guard. Bryan Bulaga is expected to return from an injury to claim the right tackle job -- but McCarthy says Don Barclay will have a chance at Training Camp to take over that spot. The coach said Barclay has earned the opportunity to compete for a starting spot. McCarthy also notes that Barclay can play all five positions on the line.
The Milwaukee Brewers' four-game home-and-home series with the Minnesota Twins moves to Minneapolis tonight. They'll be in an American League ballpark for the first time in the series -- and that means the designated hitter will come into play. Brewers' third baseman Aramis Ramirez is expected to be the D-H, as he eases his way back from a strained left hamstring he suffered on May 10th. His absence is partially why manager Ron Roenicke reworked the top of Milwaukee's batting order. The Brewers have averaged almost five runs a game in the 22 contests that Ramirez missed. Ramirez says winning is the bottom line, so he won't mind if he doesn't get his cleanup spot back -- for now, anyway. The Brewers have won five of their last seven -- and they've expanded their lead in the National League Central Division to five games over second-place Saint Louis. Brewers' right-hander Marco Estrada will start tonight at Target Field against Twins' right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
After having yesterday off, teams in the Class-"A" Midwest League return to action this evening. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are at home against Cedar Rapids, while the Beloit Snappers open a home series against Peoria. The Timber Rattlers are second-to-last among the eight teams in the Western Division. Wisconsin is 26-and-31 for the first half, 11-and-a-half games behind front-running Kane County. Beloit is last at 13-and-a-half back, with a record of 24-and-33.
Central Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann pitched a gem last night for the Washington Nationals. The former U-W Stevens Point right-hander from Auburndale threw eight shutout innings, as the Nats blanked Philadelphia, 7-to-nothing in the nation's capital. Zimmermann gave up five hits and a walk, while striking out four. Tyler Clippard threw a scoreless ninth to polish off the shutout. Zimmermann is now 4-and-2 on the year.
The Green Bay Packers resumed their O-T-A pre-mini-camp practices yesterday. It gave quarterback Scott Tolzien another chance to learn the offense he was forced into last fall, when he made three starts in the wake of injuries to Aaron Rodgers and Seneca Wallace. Tolzien, a former Wisconsin Badger, admits he had quite a cramming session -- and it paid off sometimes, with six long completions against the New York Giants and a rushing touchdown against Minnesota. But he also threw five interceptions in those two games before Matt Flynn replaced him. Now, Tolzien is competing with Flynn for the Number-two quarterback spot behind Rodgers. And Tolzien is just now learning audibles he was not able to pull off while under fire last season. He said he has made progress, but has a long way to go. Packers' coach Mike McCarthy calls Tolzien a tireless worker. McCarthy said his assistants have changed Tolzien's footwork, to more closely align his drops to the normal rhythm of the Green Bay offense.
Former U-W Green Bay men's basketball standout Tony Bennett has been given a contract extension as the head coach at Virginia. He's led the Cavaliers' bench for five years. After the school's best season in decades, Virginia tore up a deal that was supposed to expire in 2019, and gave Bennett two more years through mid-2021. He also got a nice raise of almost a quarter-million dollars a year. Bennett's total salary and supplemental income is now almost one-point-nine-five million dollars per annum. Tony Bennett -- the son of former Badgers, Green Bay, and Stevens Point coach Dick Bennett -- was named the A-C-C's coach of the year this spring. He led Virginia to 30 victories, which tied a school record, plus the A-C-C regular season and tournament titles. Tony Bennett is 106-and-60 at his five years in Charlottesville.
Scott Merritt -- who played on Marquette's Final Four team in 2003 -- is returning to the Golden Eagles as a women's basketball assistant. New coach Carolyn Kieger has hired Merritt and Vernette Skeete as assistants. Merritt was a boys' high school assistant last season at Menomonee Falls, and he's been an assistant A-A-U coordinator in Milwaukee. Skeete has spent the last two years as the head coach at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City Florida.
Wisconsin and Marquette will renew their men's basketball rivalry on December sixth in Milwaukee. Neither school has announced it yet, but the Journal Sentinel says the date has been set. All four Wisconsin Division-One men's teams play each other during their non-conference seasons. Last year, the Badgers topped Marquette 70-to-64 in Madison.