WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Sitton questionable for Sunday; Hayward out for another week
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers' left guard Josh Sitton says he won't be sure until at least tomorrow if he'll be able to play in the Pack's home opener against Washington on Sunday.
Sitton began having back problems on the team's flight to San Francisco last Saturday -- and it tightened up just before kickoff. Still, Sitton played every snap on offense. It was clear that he wasn't at his best, as he committed three penalties -- the same number he had for all of last season. Sitton refused to make excuses, saying his back was probably not the reason for his poor showing against the 49'ers. He said he was feeling a lot better yesterday. If he can't play against the Redskins, it's possible that Don Barclay would move from right tackle to left guard, with Marshall Newhouse taking Barclay's normal spot. Meanwhile, tight end Jermichael Finley expects to play on Sunday, after hurting a toe against the 49'ers. Corner Casey Hayward has been ruled out for a second straight week with a bad hamstring.
Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he has to find a way to get receiver James Jones more involved. The seventh-year pro led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches last year -- but last Sunday at San Francisco, Rodgers only threw to Jones twice, with no completions. On his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show yesterday, Rodgers said the 49'ers coverage scheme allowed Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to be open more often. Both Nelson and Cobb had more than 100 receiving yards against the Niners -- and each had a touchdown catch. Nelson had seven receptions for 130 yards, after he missed the entire exhibition season due to knee surgery in August. After their day off yesterday, the Packers are returning to practice today to get ready for their regular season home opener on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.
A junior college defensive lineman has given his verbal commitment to play for the University of Wisconsin next fall. Joe Keels will have two years of eligibility, after playing his first two at Highland Community College in Kansas. He played his final year of high school football at Kenosha Bradford, after moving from Illinois. At 6-4 and 280, Keels reportedly had offers from USC, Penn State, and Cincinnati before agreeing to join the Badgers.
University of Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt still hopes to play on Saturday night at Arizona State, even though he did not take part in the team drills at yesterday's practice. Watt missed last Saturday's Badger home win over Tennessee Tech, after he strained a hamstring in the season opener against UMass 11 days ago. Watt said he did some individual work yesterday, and he's doing all he can to get back in the swing. For now, redshirt sophomore Derek Straus continues to take Watt's spot at practice as part of the Badgers' first string offense. Also, tight end Brian Wozniak left yesterday's practice early with an undisclosed problem. Tight ends' coach Jeff Genyk expects Wozniak to play against the Sun Devils.
After a week off, the PGA playoffs resume today. Steve Stricker of Madison is the only Wisconsin golfer still in the running for the Fed-Ex Cup title. He's eighth in the standings, going into the BMW Championship which begins today in Lake Forest, Illinois north of Chicago. The Top-70 will compete this weekend, and the Top-30 will go for the crown next week at The Tour Championship near Atlanta. Because of his point totals, Stricker is assured of a spot in next week's title event. And he says he'll play, canceling an elk hunting trip he scheduled with his friends. Stricker is on a limited schedule this year, so he could spend more time with his family and things like hunting. But at this point of the playoffs, Stricker said it wouldn't be fair to himself or other players to skip out. Stricker also wants to keep his game up, since he'll compete for the U.S. in the President's Cup next month.
Menomonee Falls continues to lead Division 1 in the new state high school girls' volleyball poll from the coaches' association. Neenah is second, followed by Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels. East Troy is at the top of Division 2, and Kettle Moraine Lutheran rose three spots to No. 2. Green Bay Notre Dame is third. In Division 3, Oostburg leads the way, followed by Racine Saint Catherine's and Howards Grove. Burlington Catholic Central remains atop Division 4. Luck is second, and Wausau Newman third.
Lawrence University of Appleton swept the Midwest Conference weekly volleyball awards. Outside hitter Terese Swords was named the top player on offense. Swords, a sophomore, hit .380 and had 30 kills in a pair of Lawrence victories. She had a .500 hitting percentage and 20 kills against the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Kathleen Rowland was named the defensive player-of-the-week. The senior libero had 51 total digs, in helping Lawrence beat MSOE and Wisconsin Lutheran. The Midwest Conference also honored Karla Perez of Ripon College in cross country, and Katherine Ake of Saint Norbert in women's tennis.