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Wisconsin Sports Briefs: Packers could have just 2 healthy running backs against Cincinnati…

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The Green Bay Packers might only have two running backs available for Sunday's game at Cincinnati, but Coach Mike McCarthy says he'll do all he can to avoid that.

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James Starks and rookie Johnathan Franklin are currently the only healthy rushers on Green Bay's roster. Franklin has not taken a snap from scrimmage yet.

Eddie Lacy is recovering from a concussion. McCarthy says he might be able to return for the Bengals game.

Fullback John Kuhn is not expected to play after injuring a hamstring last Sunday. If he can't go, tight end Andrew Quarless might fill in.

Also, McCarthy could promote Michael Hill from the practice squad if need be. The coach said he learned his lesson from 2011, when he took just two running backs into Kansas City and it led to the Packers' only regular season loss that year.

McCarthy also said it's a "long shot" that safety Morgan Burnett would make his season debut on Sunday. He's been out with a bad hamstring.

Cornerback Jarrett Bush also missed Thursday's practice with a hamstring injury. Tight end Jermichael Finley, nursing an injured toe, practiced on a limited basis.

Packer offense clicking

The Green Bay Packers have scored 66 points in their first two games. If they keep that up, the Packers could have three receivers with 1,000 yards or more this season.

Randall Cobb already has 236 receiving yards, putting him on pace for almost 1,900 for the year. Jordy Nelson has 196 yards, on pace for almost 1,600. James Jones had 178 yards last week after being held without a catch in Week 1. He's on pace for over 1,400 receiving yards in 2013.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers says it's a lofty goal to have a trio of 1,000-yard wide-outs, but he believes it's possible.

Rodgers said a recent resurgence in the running game could help the receivers get more open when they're called upon. The 1-1 Packers were practicing Thursday for their next game on Sunday at Cincinnati.

Washington safety fined for hot on Lacy

Media reports say Washington safety Brandon Meriweather was fined $42,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers running back Eddie Lacy last Sunday. Lacy suffered a concussion on a 10-yard run in the first quarter of the Packers' 38-20 victory over Washington.

Meriweather also put a helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers running back James Starks. The Washington defender left after that with a concussion.

Lacy was on the sidelines at practice Wednesday. Coach Mike McCarthy said the rookie appeared OK, but he'll need to pass a couple of league-mandated tests before he can return to practice.

Starks has already been named the starting running back for Green Bay's next game on Sunday at Cincinnati. McCarthy says rookie back Johnathan Franklin will also get some playing time. The coach admitted he should have played Franklin in the backfield against the Washington.

Meanwhile, it's still not known whether fullback John Kuhn can play on Sunday against the Bengals. Kuhn injured a hamstring last Sunday. If he can't go, it appears that tight end Andrew Quarless will fill in.

Purdue has big defensive line

The Wisconsin offense faces a similar challenge to the one it had last week. The Badgers will host Purdue Saturday in their Big Ten conference opener. And just like a week ago, the Badger offense will face a pair of large and mobile tackles on Purdue's defensive line.

Quarterback Joel Stave says Bruce Gaston and Ryan Watson are solid players, just like the run-stuffers that Arizona State put up against Wisconsin last week.

Gaston and Ryan both tip the scales at just over 300 pounds. They helped the Boilermakers have given up a combined 130 rushing yards in their last two games.

Wisconsin managed to run for 239 yards in its two-point loss to Arizona State last week, but many of those yards were sweeps to the outside.

Melvin Gordon had 193 of Wisconsin's rushing yards in that game. The Badgers come into their league opener at 2-1. Purdue is 1-2.

Badger linebacker will expected to play

Wisconsin inside linebacker Derek Landisch is expected to play on Saturday when the Badgers host Purdue in their Big Ten opener. Landisch has been out for two games after hurting an ankle in the season opener against Massachusetts. He's expected to share playing time with Conor O'Neill, who resumed a back-up role last week at Arizona State after starting the previous week.

Meanwhile, Tanner McEvoy is practicing at safety this week. He's been out the last two games with an injured left wrist. McEvoy joined the Badgers as a junior college transfer at quarterback. He was a back-up receiver almost three weeks ago against Massachusetts.

Badger women’s hockey team picked to finish second

The Wisconsin women's hockey team is picked to finish second in the WCHA this season. That's according to a coaches' poll released this week.

Two-time defending national champion Minnesota is again predicted to win its conference. The Gophers have won 49 games in a row.

Mark Johnson's Badgers received one first-place vote while being projected to take second. North Dakota is picked for third, followed by Ohio State, Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota State.

Hannah Brandt of Minnesota was named the WCHA's Preseason Player the Year. Badgers goaltender Alex Rigsby finished second in the voting.

Dani Cameranesi of the Gophers is the coaches' choice as the Preseason Rookie of the Year. Wisconsin forward Sarah Nurse was second.

The Badgers will open on Monday night with a home exhibition against the Japanese National Team.

Janel McCarville happy to be with Lynx

Stevens Point native Janel McCarville says she's happy to be back in the WNBA women's pro basketball playoffs. The center for the Minnesota Lynx is in her seventh pro season after playing her college ball at the University of Minnesota.

McCarville averaged just over six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes per game in the regular season. That was after the 30-year-old McCarville took two years off from the WNBA. She joined Minnesota in the hopes that team would again be good.

The Lynx will host Seattle Friday night in the opener of the best-of-three Western Conference semifinals.

The 6-2 McCarville made the post-season three times with the New York Liberty between 2007 and 2010. She has playoff averages of 12 points and six rebounds. Her career regular season averages are around 8.5 points and five boards.

McCarville was drafted by the Charlotte Sting in 2005, but the team folded after she played two seasons there. In high school, McCarville led Stevens Point to a runner-up finish in the 2001 Division 1 state finals.

Vander Blue joins 76ers

Former Marquette guard Vander Blue has hooked up with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, at least for training camp. Yahoo Sports said Blue has signed a partially-guaranteed deal that's good during the Sixers' camp.

Philly opens its camp on Sept. 28 and will have exhibition games in Spain and England in October. The 6-5 Blue averaged 11 points and four rebounds for Memphis in the NBA's Summer League in July. He averaged around 15 points and three boards for Marquette last season. He left college as a junior in the hopes of being drafted, but he wasn't.

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