March 16, 2010

Badgers head outside for day three of camp

MADISON - For the first time this spring the Wisconsin football team had the opportunity to head outside and practice on the Camp Randall turf in full pads. With nothing but bright sunshine blanketing the field, the Badgers completed day three of 15 with a two-hour practice.

The following is a full Day Three practice report.

Looking good at safety:

Since junior Aaron Henry suffered an unfortunate torn ACL two years ago, it has been a long road back to seeing action on the field. Last fall, in his first full season back in action, the then sophomore started off as a cornerback before finishing at the safety position.

Now, with three practices in the books this spring, it seems that Henry is starting to find his niche at that position.

On multiple occasions during Tuesday's practice, Henry showcased a bit of the swagger he once had as a true freshman. He looked to be moving well and without much hesitation or limitation.

At the same time, he seemed to be making correct reads in coverage while occasionally stepping up for a pass breakup or a powerful hit.

When Nick Toon caught a pass from Scott Tolzien on the far sideline near the end of practice, it was Henry who promptly lit up the junior wide receiver with a big hit on the sideline.

As one would assume many of Henry's defensive teammates were hooting and hollering following the play. Earlier in practice, Henry perfectly timed another deep pass over the middle of the field intended for Toon and deflected the pass.

Again, Henry's teammates and new secondary coach Chris Ash were impressed with the great read and play.

Also looking good at safety was newly transplanted Conor O'Neill. After playing linebacker his first season on campus, the move was made this spring to back up the secondary at the safety position.

During 7-on-7 drills early in practice, O'Neill jumped a pass thrown towards Jared Abbrederis by Jon Budmayr and easily intercepted it and returned it up the sideline until the coaches blew the whistles to officially end the play.

While he is obviously in the early stages of learning a new position, O'Neill looks to be a smooth customer out there. He has great speed, great size and a seemingly good knack for the ball.

Ball running with emphasis:

With John Clay set to miss the entirety of spring camp, sophomore tailback Montee Ball will have plenty of opportunities to get some reps. So far, at least through the two practices I've seen in person, the Missouri native looks to be running with plenty of emphasis.

After going through strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert's winter conditioning program, Ball says he has dropped a few pounds of fat and replaced them with solid muscle. By the way he runs the ball that certainly looks to be the case.

"Actually, today I felt a little slow because it was the first day in pads," Ball said after Tuesday's practice. "That's the game of football and that's what we work hard for. It's fun to come out and fly around with your teammates."

Ball says he currently weighs around 222 pounds and is comfortable at that weight. As spring ball continues to proceed, Ball is focused on simply improving.

"I wouldn't say there are many personal (goals) other than just getting better every practice," Ball said. "Other than that, just to get the team ready for the upcoming season."

Quick highlights:

-Following a practice where Antonio Fenelus got burned a couple of times on deep routes, the junior cornerback made amends by jumping a Scott Tolzien pass and picking it off.

On top of that, it was nice to see Fenelus bounce back by not giving up many big plays, particularly on deep routes.

-Jared Abbrederis, the star of the first three practices, was at it again Tuesday night. When Jon Budmayr stepped up into the pocket and whipped the ball 35-plus yards downfield, Abbrederis was able to beat Dezmen Southward and reel in the catch.

Although, he the freshman walk-on wide receiver also fumbled a ball after he caught a pass from Tolzien early in practice during 7-on-7 drills.

-Anthony Mains and Ethan Hemer were playing defensive tackle on the No. 2 unit. Patrick Butrym and Jordan Kohout handled were playing with the No. 1 defense at the position.

-Louis Nzegwu was very active at the defensive end position during Tuesday's practice. Though the team was not tackling, Nzegwu was in great position on multiple occasions to either sack the quarterback or drop the running back for a loss of yards.

-The team will have Wednesday off before returning to the field Thursday afternoon for practice No. 4 of 15.

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