Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Packers' Stark to see his first action of 2012Wisconsin Sports
- Green Bay Packers’ running back James Starks could see his first action of the regular season on Sunday against New Orleans at Lambeau Field.
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers’ running back James Starks could see his first action of the regular season on Sunday against New Orleans at Lambeau Field.
Starks has been out with a turf-toe injury, but he’s listed as probable for this weekend. Starter Cedric Benson and second-year pro Alex Green could still get a lot of the carries against the Saints, but coach Mike McCarthy says Starks is beginning to get back to where he was before his injury. Corner Davon House is questionable, and rookie safety Sean Richardson is out with a bad hamstring. He did not practice all week. Other players listed as probable are receiver Greg Jennings, tackle Bryan Bulaga, tight end Tom Crabtree, linebacker Jamari Lattimore, and rookie defensive lineman Jerel Worthy. The Packers are 1-2 going into Sunday’s match-up against the 0-3 Saints.
Jeff Triplette will be the referee on Sunday when the Green Bay Packers host New Orleans. He’ll be the first “regular” referee to call a Packers’ game this season, after the NFL and its officials’ union agreed to a new eight-year contract which ended the controversial use of replacement refs. Triplette has been an NFL referee since 1999, and he’s been an official in the league since ’96. Meanwhile, Packers’ president Mark Murphy is asking fans to move on – saying he and the organization have moved on after Monday night’s officiating fiasco on the final play of Green Bay’s 14-12 loss at Seattle. Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass that appeared to be intercepted by the Packers’ M-D Jennings – but a replacement ref awarded a touchdown to Seattle’s Golden Tate, and that won the game for the Seahawks. Murphy had refused comment after the game, and did not defend the Packers publicly. Murphy, who helped negotiate an end to the NFL players’ lockout a year ago, said he didn’t want to jeopardize the bargaining process while talks were going on. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the Monday Night game was a factor in speeding up the talks and reaching a settlement. But he wouldn’t say whether he thought the play was an interception. Murphy praised Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy, saying he handled the aftermath with class. The regular officials received a standing ovation at their first game back – the Thursday night Cleveland game at Baltimore.
The Milwaukee Brewers will open their final home-stand of the regular season tonight, when they host the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series. The Brewers have the most wins in the Majors since August 20th with 26 victories. But they’re fighting for their playoff lives after losing three-of-their-last-four outings at Washington and Cincinnati. The Brewers are now in third place for the final National League Wild Card spot, a game behind the LA Dodgers and four in back of front-running Saint Louis. The Brewers would have to win all six of their remaining games, while the Cardinals lose at least 4-of-6. The Cards play the Nationals and the Reds, but both those teams say they’ll rest their starting lineups once they seal their best playoff fates possible. Washington is close to clinching the National League East, while the Central champion Reds still hope to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Brewers will not be playing a team that plans to lie down and play dead. The Astros may be 54 games below .500, but they’re 11-13 in September – and interim manager Tony DeFrancesco says his goal is to finish at least .500 for the month. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will start for the Crew tonight against Astros’ right-hander Edgar Gonzalez. Gallardo is going for his ninth straight win overall, and his 11th straight against the Astros.
Milwaukee Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun and closer John Axford showed how much they appreciated their fans by buying five-thousand tickets to Sunday’s game to give away. And as you might expect, the seats got snapped up very quickly this morning. Braun said the players wanted to show the fans that their support has not gone unnoticed. In Braun’s words, “They make Miller Park the best home-field advantage in the game.” Sunday’s contest is part of the team’s annual Fan Appreciation Weekend. After a slow start this season, Milwaukee is now 46-and-29 at home this year – the sixth-best home record among the 30 Major League teams. Axford said the crowds have been a quote, “tremendous part of our recent turnaround,” in which the Brewers have won 19-of-their-last-22 at Miller Park to help them get back into the playoff race. They still have a very slim shot of winning a National League Wild Card with six games left.
Four college football players from Wisconsin are among 147 nominees for the William Campbell Trophy. The award is based on the players’ performance on the field and in the classroom, as well as their community leadership. Defensive back Shelton Johnson of the Wisconsin Badgers is nominated, as well as three Badger State players from the NCAA’s Division-Three – Matt Hawley of UW-Eau Claire, Ben Strehlow of Oshkosh, and Joshua Peterson of Stout. The 147 nominees have average grade point averages of just below three-point-six. Ninety-one of them are team captains, and 74 have been named as all-conference selections. Up to 16 players will be named as finalists in late October. The winner will be announced on December fourth.
Conference play begins tomorrow for the WIAC’s football teams. Fourth-ranked UW-Whitewater takes a 2-1 record into Platteville, where they’ll face an unbeaten Pioneer team that’s ranked 13th in Division III. 21st-ranked Oshkosh is also at 3-0, and will open its league schedule at River Falls. Also, Stout plays at Eau Claire. And Stevens Point entertains La Crosse. In the Midwest Conference, four teams are undefeated in league games – and two of them will square off tomorrow, when 3-0 Saint Norbert travels to Illinois to face 2-0 Monmouth. Lake Forest is also 3-0, and will play at Carroll tomorrow. Lawrence is at 2-0 Illinois College. Ripon hosts Knox College. And Beloit is at home against Cornell. The Northern Athletics Conference opens its league schedule tomorrow. Maranatha Baptist of Watertown hosts Aurora. Concordia-Mequon plays at Benedictine. And Lakeland is at Wisconsin Lutheran. Concordia-Chicago has the league’s best non-conference record at 3-0. Wisconsin Lutheran is at 2-1. In the CCIW, Carthage will host North Park in their conference opener. Carthage is 2-1.