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WISCONSIN SPORTS BRIEFS: McCarthy tabs Cobb as Packers' kick returner

GREEN BAY - If the Green Bay Packers were to open the season tomorrow, Randall Cobb would be the team’s kick returner. That’s what coach Mike McCarthy said after practice today, the team’s fifth workout at Packer Training Camp.

There’s been talk that the Packers want to take Cobb off the return teams, so he can focus on his role as a receiver with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver gone. McCarthy said Cobb has done an excellent job, and he would deserve the starting nod at this point. Cobb has averaged 26-and-a-half yards per kick return, and just over 10-yards on punts during his first two seasons with the Pack. Jeremy Ross showed some potential last year, but McCarthy says he’s looking for someone more consistent. Others have tried out, but they have not been reliable in handling kicks. Rookie Johnathan Franklin dropped a punt and a kickoff at today’s practice. Also, defensive end Johnny Jolly left today’s practice early with an injured ankle. Linebacker Dezman Moses also missed the workout with a toe injury.


The Milwaukee Bucks confirmed this afternoon that they traded point guard Brandon Jennings to Detroit for point guard Brandon Knight and front-liners Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov. The trade will be finalized once all four players pass physicals. Jennings, who’s playing in a charity tournament in Toronto, said he’s happy with the trade – but he wanted to be “under the radar screen” in his comments for now. Jennings gets 24-million dollars in a three-year deal. The 21-year-old Knight has two years remaining on his rookie contract.


Milwaukee Brewers’ starter Yovani Gallardo was put on the 15-day disabled list today, with a tight left hamstring suffered in yesterday’s Game-One victory against the Cubs in Chicago. He was originally hurt on a diving catch of a pop-up bunt – and he later came up lame while making a pitch to Darwin Barney. Second baseman Scooter Gennett will take Gallardo’s roster spot for now. Gennett was called up yesterday as an extra player that’s allowed during scheduled double-headers. He had been optioned back to Triple-“A” Nashville after last night’s second game – and he was recalled today. 


Wily Peralta will try to win his fourth decision in his last six, when the Milwaukee Brewers close out a four-game series against the Cubs in Chicago tonight. The rookie right-hander has found his stride after a rough start to the season. He went 3-1 in six starts with a stingy ERA of point-eight-seven, before he was roughed up at Colorado last Friday night. He gave up eight runs, five earned, in just three-and-two-thirds innings. Peralta is 7-and-10 on the year, with a 4.54 ERA. Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson will start for Chicago. He’s 6-11 with a 4.89 ERA. Jackson is 3-1 in his last five starts. He gave up two runs in six-and-two-thirds innings of his last start at San Francisco last Friday night. Milwaukee is going for its first-ever four-game sweep of the Cubs. The Crew has won seven-of-its-last night matchups against Chicago. However, Milwaukee is still two-and-a-half games behind the next-to-last-place Cubs in the National League Central Division. 


After a slow start, former Brewers’ outfielder Nyjer Morgan has made a big splash in the Japan Central League. The 33-year-old Morgan had such a terrible first month that he was demoted to the Japanese minors. Since he was recalled, however, Morgan has improved steadily. He’s now batting .303 as the Number-three hitter with the Yokohama De Na Bay Stars, with a career-high seven homers and 31 RBI’s in 67 games. Morgan – who used to play hockey in Canada with Regina of the Western League – knew he’d be versatile enough to find his rhythm in the Japanese big leagues. He said baseball players fail more than they succeed, and it’s all about having a positive attitude and making the necessary adjustments. Morgan was the hero of the 2011 playoffs for Milwaukee, as he drove in the winning run in the 10th inning of the deciding Game-Five of the Division Series against Arizona. He spent two years with the Crew, as a teammate of Ryan Braun. Morgan spoke out against doping, but he says he understands why some are tempted. In Morgan’s words, “A lot of guys do it so they can reach their dream to be a Major League ballplayer.” 


Interdivisional play continues tonight in the Northwoods League, as each team begins a new series. The Lakeshore Chinooks, who lead the South Division, have a home contest in Mequon against the Rochester Honkers. Waterloo, which leads the North, heads to Battle Creek. Also tonight, Eau Claire hosts Thunder Bay. The Wisconsin Woodchucks are at home in Wausau against Duluth. Wisconsin Rapids hosts Alexandria. Madison entertains Willmar. La Crosse is at home against Saint Cloud. And Green Bay hosts Mankato. The South Division winners last night were Green Bay, La Crosse, and Eau Claire. Lakeshore played to a 1-1 tie with Waterloo after nine innings. That contest will be completed next Tuesday. Lakeshore now has a two-game lead over Madison in the South. Waterloo has a three-game edge over Saint Cloud in the North for the second half.


In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are playing an afternoon contest at Kane County, with the first pitch at noon. The Rattlers are coming off a 4-to-2 at Kane County last night. The Beloit Snappers resume their series at Clinton tonight, on the heels of a 4-3 Snappers’ loss in 10 innings. It dropped Beloit to third place in the Western Division standings, five games behind front-running Cedar Rapids. The Timber Rattlers are now tied with Burlington for second-to-last in the West, 10 games off the pace. There are two other matinees in the Midwest League today. South Bend is at Lansing. And Lake County plays at Fort Wayne. Tonight, Peoria plays at Quad Cities. Burlington hosts Cedar Rapids. East leader Bowling Green is at Dayton. And West Michigan entertains Great Lakes. 


Two University of Wisconsin women’s hockey assistants will be on opposite benches when the U.S. and Canada square off in a series of games for players under-18. Earlier this week, Jackie Friesen was named as an assistant coach for her native Canada. Today, her fellow Badgers’ assistant Dan Koch was named to a similar role for the U.S. squad. Both teams will hold evaluation camps leading up to the Under-18 U.S.-and-Canadian series, to be played August 22nd-through-25th. 


Two University Wisconsin women’s hockey players are among 40 to be considered for Canada’s National Development Team. Junior Katarina Zgraja and incoming freshman Mellissa Channell are among the native Canadians taking part in a selection camp August 10th through 18th in Calgary. Thirteen development team players will be chosen to help the Canadian Olympic team train for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.