WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Neal, Perry to start at outside linebackers Sunday
Mike Neal and Nick Perry will start at the two outside linebacker spots for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Baltimore. They'll try to make up for the heavy production lost when Clay Matthews broke one of his thumbs last Sunday against Detroit. Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed yesterday that the All-Pro Matthews would be out for quote, "multiple weeks" with the injury -- in which he needed surgery. Neal is the proverbial "next man up," and it's making his off-season conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker complete. He says it's happening a lot faster than he ever expected -- but he's ready for it. Neal lost 25 pounds during the winter so he could be more flexible at outside linebacker. He says he can grow into the type of defensive weapon that Matthews represents -- and if he has to lose a few more pounds to play more snaps with Matthews gone, he'll do it. Neal had a sack and six tackles last Sunday against the Lions, in what he calls his best game ever. Meanwhile, Jamari Lattimore is expected to join A-J Hawk as the starting inside linebackers against the Ravens. Lattimore replaces Brad Jones, who won't play after injuring a hamstring against Detroit.
Packers' safety Jerron McMillian says he'll appeal a 15-thousand-dollar fine from the NFL for a rough hit on Detroit tight end Tony Scheffler last Sunday. McMillian was fined for putting a shoulder on Scheffler's helmet. An unnecessary roughness penalty was called on the play. McMillian, a second-year pro, said his hit was not as bad as the one George Iloka of Cincinnati put on Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley September 22nd. Iloka was fined 15-thousand dollars, and Finley later said Iloka should not have had to pay anything. This is McMillian's second large fine in his second NFL season. He had to pay 21-thousand dollars for a helmet-to-helmet hit a year ago.
Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland says the Badgers' defense has a lot of work to do going into Saturday's home contest against Northwestern. The fifth-year senior says the defense needs to get more turnovers, make more stops on third down, and limit big plays. Northwestern will give the Badgers all they can handle in the big play department. The 19th-ranked Wildcats have 29 plays of 20 yards or longer in their first five games. Seventeen are passes and 12 are runs. As far as turnovers, the Badgers have only forced one in Big Ten play, and seven overall. Their three fumble recoveries and four interceptions make Wisconsin the eighth-best in the Big Ten for generating turnovers. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda says the goal is to get three per game. Also, the Badger defense ranks sixth in the league in stopping opponents on third down. It happens just over 32-percent of the time. Borland says the Badgers can have an "elite defense" if all three problem areas can be addressed. Wisconsin takes a 3-and-2 overall record into Saturday's contest. Northwestern is 4-1.
The Milwaukee Bucks will play their second exhibition game tonight. They'll face the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first public event at the new Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls South Dakota. It's a retro basketball facility with only 32-hundred-50 seats -- and they've all been spoken for. Guard Nate Wolters, whom the Bucks acquired during a Draft Night trade in June, will play his first pro game in the state where he's regarded as a college hero. Wolters is the all-time scoring and assists' leader at nearby South Dakota State, and he led the Jackrabbits to the first two N-C-A-A tournament appearances. The Bucks will be without power forward Ersan Ilyasova, who injured his right ankle in a collision during Tuesday night's 12-point pre-season loss at Cleveland. Further tests yesterday confirmed initial findings that nothing was broken. Still, the Bucks do not know how long Ilyasova will be out.
A U-W La Crosse sophomore from Delafield will compete in the world Ironman Triathlon championship on Saturday in Hawaii. 19-year-old Taylor Schleusner is the second-youngest competitor in the event -- which includes a two-point-four mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a standard 26-mile marathon. He qualified by winning last year's Wisconsin Ironman Triathlon in Madison. Schleusner ran cross country and track at Lake Country Lutheran High School. His coach, former theology teacher Mark Newman, says endurance athletes need to manage pain in order to be at their best. Newman says Schleusner does a great job of that, and he has tremendous mental toughness.