Football notes: Badgers making healthy returns

Wisconsin backfield intact as team looks forward to New Year's Day bowl game

University of Wisconsin football fans would have been pleased with the sight Tuesday at the McClain Center. Senior tailback Anthony Davis, who has looked more like himself with each additional bowl practice rep since returning from a thigh injury, found a seam and burst into the secondary, darting past a defensive back for what would have been a long touchdown run had the play been completely live.

Davis broke a handful or such runs Tuesday, in a variety of situations and drills. It is the type of production the Badgers will need when they take on Georgia in the Outback Bowl Jan. 1.

"I think he's been exceptional quick," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said Sunday. "He's had a bounce in his step. I think he's been very sharp."

After running for more than 3,000 yards over the course of his freshman and sophomore seasons, Davis has been hampered by myriad injuries the past two years. He missed all or most of nine games last year due to ankle injuries, then missed 3 ½ games after suffering an eye injury in the season opener this season. He missed another 1 ½ games due to the thigh ailment this year. Still, Davis has accumulated 4,597 rushing yards in his career, the sixth-most in Big Ten history. He also has 42 career rushing touchdowns.

"I'd like to see a healthy Anthony play an Anthony Davis-quality game," Alvarez said. "I feel badly for him. His last two years have been a nightmare with injuries. Here was a guy that was never hurt for two, his first two years, and as many times as we gave him the ball.

"These past two years, I'm sure he's not very happy with the way they worked out. I know he worked hard to be in shape. Eliminate the ankle problems, then it's the eye, then it's the thigh. It just seems like it never ended. He's going to have a great career beyond [college]. He'll have a chance to play a lot more football after this game. But I really would like to see him play his last game in our uniform and play like we all remember Anthony playing."

Bernstein returns

The Badgers starting fullback, Matt Bernstein, recently returned to practice and took part in live scrimmage work Tuesday. He showed no ill effects of the injury but still needs to work his way back to 100 percent for the bowl game.

A number of other previously injured players, such as defensive ends Erasmus James and Jonathan Welsh, defensive tackle Jason Jefferson and tailback Booker Stanley, have returned to practice and should be completely healthy for the bowl game.

Lewis making plays in new role

Freshman Sean Lewis continues to play well at tight end after making the jump from quarterback. He has adjusted to running routes, has not shied away from contact and has the athleticism to get separation and make a play on the ball. He made an excellent catch along the sidelines Tuesday and snagged another ball over a safety in the back of the end zone. That pass was zipped right on target by freshman quarterback Bryan Savage.

Five for five

During scrimmage work Tuesday, the Badgers first and second team defense had to do five pushups every time they gave up more than five yards rushing.

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