WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Packers close out preseason tonight in Kansas City
The Green Bay Packers will play their last exhibition game tonight at Kansas City – and it’s the final audition for players on the bubble. The starters will only play a series or two. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers might not play at all, so he doesn’t risk getting hurt before the regular season opener a week from Sunday at San Francisco. It’s not known how many receivers the Packers will keep, when they cut 22 players by Saturday to reach their Opening Day roster limit of 53. Jeremy Ross, Myles White, and Tyrone Walker are competing for either one-or-two job openings. Greg Van Roten and Patrick Lewis are vying for the back-up center spot. On defense, six players are still auditioning for either two-or-three openings at linebacker. On the defensive line, Johnny Jolly, Josh Boyd, and Jordan Miller are competing for either one-or-two slots. Six-year veteran Mason Crosby appears to have kept his kicking job. But Training Camp challenger Giorgio Tavecchio could still come in again, after he cleared waivers yesterday. He’s now a free agent.
Former Packers’ quarterback Graham Harrell could get some playing time for the New York Jets tonight, when they close out their pre-season against Philadelphia. Harrell passed a physical yesterday and then signed with the Jets. He and Matt Simms are expected to get the bulk of the snaps against the Eagles. Mark Sanchez is out with a shoulder injury, Greg McElroy is out with a bad knee, and rookie quarterback Geno Smith is not expected to play. McElroy has been competing with Simms for the Jets’ Number-three quarterback job behind Smith and Sanchez. Harrell was released from the Packers last Sunday after three years with the team. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 20 yards in four regular season games for the Pack.
Three running backs are expected to get the bulk of the carries for the Wisconsin football team this season. Senior James White is expected to be the starter on Saturday, when the Badgers open their season at home against U-Mass. Junior Melvin Gordon and freshman Corey Clement are also expected to get a lot of playing time. White has only averaged 11 carries per game in his first three years at the U-W. His average of six-point-four yards per carry is the best in Wisconsin history. Gordon has never had more than 10 carries in a game. He has averaged just under five yards in 17 contests for the U-W. Running backs’ coach Thomas Hammock said the freshman Clement has made a solid impression throughout the Badgers’ pre-season camp – and he brings a more physical element to the game.
The Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly close to making a trade that would bring Racine native Caron Butler back to his home state. The Racine Journal Times and the Arizona Republic are reporting on a deal in which the Bucks would get the 33-year-old Butler from the Phoenix Suns, in exchange for backup point guard Ish Smith, and center Slava Kravstov. The Phoenix paper says the trade could be finalized today. Butler is vague in a tweet, saying he has quote, “much respect for the organization of the Phoenix Suns … Stay tuned.” The Suns acquired Butler in a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers on July 10th. Milwaukee acquired Smith in February in a trade with Orlando. The Bucks picked up Kravstov from Detroit in the July trade that sent Brandon Jennings to the Pistons. The Arizona Republic says the Suns are trying to cut salary cap space to off-set an expensive release of Michael Beasley, who’s getting nine-million dollars this year. Butler is due to get eight-million in the final year of his contract. The paper says the Bucks can cover most of it with seven-and-a-half million in salary cap space. Butler is an 11-year N-B-A veteran who played his college ball at U-Conn. He’s played with Miami, Washington, Dallas, and both Los Angeles teams in his N-B-A career. Butler has a championship ring with the Mavericks from 2011. He averaged 10 points and three rebounds with the Clippers last season.