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Wisconsin Sports Briefs: Rodgers wants to get the ball to receiver James Jones more often…

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Wisconsin Sports Briefs: Rodgers wants to get the ball to receiver James Jones more often…
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Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he has to find a way to get receiver James Jones more involved. The seventh-year pro led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches last year, but last Sunday at San Francisco, Rodgers only threw to Jones twice, with no completions.


On his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show yesterday, Rodgers said the 49ers coverage scheme allowed Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to be open more often. Both Nelson and Cobb had more than 100 receiving yards against the Niners, and each had a touchdown catch.

Nelson had seven receptions for 130 yards, after he missed the entire exhibition season due to knee surgery in August.

After their day off yesterday, the Packers are returning to practice today to get ready for their regular season home opener on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Offensive line candidates

The Packers brought in three offensive line candidates for tryouts Tuesday. They were guard Michael Huey of Texas, center Tyler Horn of Miami and guard Bryant Browning of Ohio State.

Huey played for Arizona of the Arena League this past spring. The New York Giants cut Browning after their training camp ended in late August. Houston cut Horn nine days ago.

Packers expect more crowd noise

With many of their ticket buyers getting older, the Green Bay Packers have been short on crowd noise at Lambeau Field in recent years. But that shouldn't be a problem any longer, now that the stadium is fully enclosed with the addition of close to 7,000 seats in the South End Zone.

Those fans proved to be a loud bunch during the exhibition season. Tight end Jermichael Finley says it could be a huge advantage for the Pack when it begins its regular season home schedule on Sunday against Washington.

Finley says he's excited at the prospect of a juiced-up crowd of over 80,000. Home crowds are most effective when they try to shake up an opposing offense.

Packers defensive lineman C.J. Wilson says a loud crowd fires up the defense. He says any offensive player will agree that an opposing crowd can throw them off. The Packers will start practicing Wednesday for their matchup against the Redskins. Both teams are 0-1.

Derek Watt hopes to play Saturday

Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt still hopes to play on Saturday night at Arizona State, even though he did not take part in the team drills at Tuesday's practice. Watt missed last Saturday's Badger home win over Tennessee Tech after he strained a hamstring in the season opener against U-Mass 11 days ago.

Watt said he did some individual work Tuesday, and he's doing all he can to get back in the swing. For now, redshirt sophomore Derek Straus continues to take Watt's spot at practice as part of the Badgers' No. 1 offense.

Also, tight end Brian Wozniak left Tuesday's practice early with an undisclosed problem. Tight ends coach Jeff Genyk expects Wozniak to play against the Sun Devils.

Badgers, Sun Devils to get first real test

Both Wisconsin and Arizona State will have their first quality opponents of the season when they face each other on Saturday night in Tempe. The Sun Devils are trying to become one of the top teams in a tough Pacific 12 Conference. The 20th-ranked Badgers are coming off three-straight Big Ten championships.

ASU coach Todd Graham said he dreaded playing FCS school Sacramento State in his season opener a week ago. He said eight lower-echelon opponents upset their upper-division foes in Week One around the country, and that made him extremely nervous.

But Graham had nothing to worry about as Arizona State crushed Sacramento 55-0.

The Badgers toppled their first two opponents 93-0. Some of the players have said their season begins for real on Saturday night in the hot Arizona desert.

The Sun Devils went 5-4 in the Pac 12 last year during Graham's first season as coach. One thing Graham's trying to do is get his team more disciplined. A year ago, ASU was eighth in the nation in the fewest penalty yards per game with just under 35.

Wisconsin native wins 17th game for the Nationals

Central Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmerman won his National League-leading 17th game for the Washington Nationals Tuesday night as they beat the Mets in New York 6-3. Zimmermann, a former UW-Stevens Point star from Auburndale, gave up three runs on eight hits in five-plus innings. He also walked a batter as he improved to 17-8 on the year.

Brewers will have to win remaining games to avoid losing season

The Milwaukee Brewers will try delay the inevitable Wednesday night when they play the Cardinals in St. Louis. If the Brewers lose, they'll guarantee themselves a sub-.500 season, a rarity since Mark Attanasio bought the club in 2005.

Milwaukee is also in danger of dropping back into last place in the National League Central. The Crew is just a half-game ahead of the fifth-place Chicago Cubs, who beat Cincinnati Tuesday night and have an afternoon contest against the Reds Wednesday.

The Brewers are 62-81. With 19 games left, they were mathematically eliminated from a winning season Tuesday night with a 4-2 loss at Busch Stadium.

Milwaukee has won 14 of its last 23 road games, but they're just 3-11 against the Cards this year. St. Louis is fighting hard to stay in first place in the Central. They lead Pittsburgh by a game at the moment.

Right-hander Marco Estrada starts for the Crew tonight against Redbirds right-hander Lance Lynn.

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
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