Cribbs back in action, might not start

Decision was to come Friday on top mike linebacker for Saturday

After missing more than two games with an ankle injury, sophomore mike linebacker Reggie Cribbs will be back in the Badger lineup Saturday when Wisconsin hosts Minnesota. True freshman Andy Crooks, however, may remain in the starting lineup.

"I'm going to get [Cribbs] back but I don't think I'm going to start him," defensive coordinator Bret Bielema said Wednesday. "Crooksy has got us through the last couple ball games."

Bielema did not rule out the possibility of starting Cribbs Saturday, stating that it was a decision he would make Friday afternoon. Players and assistant coaches are available to the media on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cribbs started the Badgers' first six games this season and has 32 tackles, seventh on the team. He twisted his ankle during Wisconsin's win at Ohio State, however. He tried to return but could not.

"I went in there for a series and it was killing me," he said. "Doctors thought I wasn't really exploding that well….I was going to hurt the team if I stayed out there."

After missing the Purdue game a week later, Cribbs tried to return for Wisconsin's home game against Northwestern two weeks ago but could only take part in practice on a limited basis, running but not wearing pads.

"I was trying to get back but it wouldn't have been smart for me to do it," Cribbs said.

Crooks has played extensively in Cribbs' absence, tallying 12 of his 17 tackles in the past three games. Crooks had six stops versus the Wildcats.

"The one thing I don't want to do is take away any confidence that Andy's brought up…he played his best game a week ago," Bielema said.

Cribbs was back to full strength this week.

"He wouldn't be on the field if I didn't feel he was at the same level he could be," Bielema said.

Whether or not he starts, Cribbs is anxious to get back on the field.

"Not only Minnesota and playing for the Axe, but the type of football that they play is the type of football I like to defend," Cribbs said. "They like to run the ball, we like to stop the run. And playing at home with the fans for the last time. I miss my d line out there. I can't wait to be back."

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