Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The Wisconsin defense was not as good as we thought it would be this year. Last year's unit ranked near the top of the national rankings in many key categories, and seven starters returned. The key positions to examine: defensive end, middle linebacker, and the two safety spots, not coincidentally the spots vacated by graduating seniors.

Two items in the news today illustrate why:

-Roderick Rogers was signed by the Broncos off their practice squad. Even though, as this story says, he was a two-time all-conference pick, I never thought he was an irreplaceable member of the defense; certainly never thought he was NFL-caliber, but apparently he is, and I'm glad. The struggles in the defensive backfield show just how good he and Joe Stellmacher were. In retrospect, Stellmacher really overshadowed Rogers, who was a darn good player in his own right.

-In The Cap Times Mike Lucas writes about Elijah Hodge's injury troubles this season (he also writes about Abdul Hodge, veers off onto Erik Ainge for a few paragraphs, and I think may have made his picks for the Iowa caucuses). Here's a guy who I thought would step in seamlessly for Mark Zalewski, and he may have, had he not been hurt. There is no such award, but look for Hodge to be our comeback player in 2008. The experience Culmer St. Jean and Jae McFadden got because of injuries to Hodge and DeAndre Levy will pay off as well.

On another note, I was talking to a friend about Joe Thomas last week and he asked me if Joe was having a good rookie season. Since I'm not an offensive line expert or Ron Jaworski, I couldn't tell, but responded that since the Browns offense was doing so well this year, he must have been at least holding his own. Yesterday he was named a Pro Bowl alternate, so he must have done OK.

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