Zalewski shining in Bielema’s spring corps

first_imgAJ MACLEAN/Herald photoAfter entering last season as the biggest question mark on a defense featuring a talented line and experienced backfield, the Wisconsin linebackers returned all three starters heading into this year’s spring practice. However, with senior “will” backer Dontez Sanders nursing an injury, several youngsters have stepped up for Bret Bielema’s defense.“Obviously, we have guys that haven’t had many reps in live game situations,” Bielema said. “The more you can put them in those situations through scrimmages, pressure situations, understanding what the point is in the football game that they need to do this, this and this for this to happen. That’s going to happen, but there’s a big, big learning curve. They learn every day, you can see it literally happen within a practice.”One of those youngsters who has grabbed the coaching staff’s attention this spring is redshirt sophomore Casey Hogan. Hogan worked at safety last season, but shifted to “sam” linebacker prior to the spring session and has earned a spot on the second team defense after beginning the spring buried on the depth chart.“What we’ve really done is put him in a position where he would have more success physically, in theory, than the other position,” Bielema said.The transition to linebacker has been, by Hogan’s own admission, tough. However, the new “sam” backer has been studying film and learning from teammates.“It’s definitely a lot more physical,” Hogan said of playing on the strong side. “I’ve definitely been in the training room a lot more than I’m used to. I’ve just got to use my size and my long arms to my advantage and know where I’ve got to line up in formations and stuff and just do my keys and I’ll be alright.”Hogan has made the most of his chances thus far, showing his combination of speed and quickness for a linebacker. The lanky 6-foot-5 Hogan has also used his atypical size to create problems for the UW offense on blitzes during scrimmages. For the Cross Plains native, his play of late is a culmination of many hours of hard work.“The goal coming into the spring was just to get the coaches to notice, work hard in the weight room and get bigger, faster and stronger with [strength and conditioning coordinator John Dettman] and company,” Hogan said. “I’m just working hard, trying to get up in the film room as much as I can, get up with the coaches, talk to them. I’m lucky they’re noticing and I’m making the plays and getting the opportunity.”The man ahead of Hogan on the depth chart, junior Mark Zalewski, has had one of the best springs of any player on the defensive side of the football. While senior Lamarr Watkins, who has played in 31 games (starting eight) in his career, has taken the majority of snaps with the first team defense at “will” in Sanders’ absence, only Zalewski appears to have a real grip on a starting job.“I think Mark Zalewski is a good football player,” Bielema said. “Zew’s probably my best linebacker at any position, and he knows that. He’s really competing well amongst himself. He knows what he has to do to become a better football player. The rest of the guys, it’s a wide open battle and they’re doing some good things.”A position in an upheaval of sorts this spring has been “mike” backer, where sophomore Andy Crooks, who took over the starting spot for five games near the end of last season, has been among a number of players working with the first team defense in the middle.Junior Reggie Cribbs, who started prior to Crooks’ emergence until he was limited by an injury last season, has been a noticeable absence this spring. Cribbs has not participated in practice reportedly due to academic issues, and his status for the fall remains uncertain.Along with Crooks, junior Paul Joran and redshirt freshman Josh Neal have each spent time at first team “mike”, with Joran seeing the most time of late.The group as a whole will receive a boost in the fall from a talented freshman class that includes highly touted linebackers Travis Beckum and Elijah Hodge. However, the influx of new talent could also leave several current Badger linebackers fighting for spots on the depth chart.“We can’t worry about them,” Hogan said. “We’ve got to do our job right now, it’s spring ball and they’re obviously not here. But when they come in, we’re going to welcome them and try to help them into our family at linebacker, help them as much as we can and make us a better unit.”last_img read more

Chris Taylor, Dodgers agree on two-year extension

first_img Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire With Max Muncy’s signing on Thursday, Taylor’s signing on Friday and the Pederson decision, the Dodgers have one arbitration case still pending – right-handed reliever Pedro Baez.Related Articles And Dodgers fans aren’t the only ones upset by the delay in finalizing the trade for Betts and Price. MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark released a statement on Friday.“The proposed trades between the Dodgers, Red Sox, Twins, and Angels need to be resolved without further delay,” Clark said in the statement. “The events of this last week have unfairly put several players’ lives in a state of limbo. The unethical leaking of medical information as well as the perversion of the salary arbitration process serve as continued reminders that too often players are treated as commodities by those running the game.” LOS ANGELES — With their blockbuster trade for Mookie Betts and David Price on hold, the Dodgers continued to tie up the loose ends of their offseason.The Dodgers reached agreement on a two-year contract with utilityman Chris Taylor on Friday. Meanwhile, outfielder Joc Pederson lost his arbitration case and will receive a $7.75 million salary in 2020. That salary is still expected to be paid by the Angels. A multi-player deal that will send Pederson and right-hander Ross Stripling to the Angels will be announced after the Dodgers’ complicated acquisition of Betts and Price becomes official.Taylor had sought a $5.8 million salary in arbitration with the Dodgers countering at $5.25 million. His new two-year contract is reportedly for $13.4 million with salaries of $5.6 million in 2020 and $7.8 million in 2021.Acquired from the Seattle Mariners in a trade for former first-round pick Zach Lee in June of 2016, Taylor emerged as a valuable multi-position player, filling in at six positions (all three outfield positions, second base, third base and shortstop). Over parts of four seasons with the Dodgers, Taylor has hit .266 with an .800 OPS and 51 home runs. Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies last_img read more