After seeing some action last year at the two outside linebacker positions, this spring the coaching staff looked at plugging McFadden between Jonathan Casillas and DeAndre Levy. In the first few practices this fall, McFadden has impressed.
"What we were really trying to do was create a situation where we get our best three linebackers on the field," Bielema said.
"From a physical standpoint, I think he is a little more adapted to the outside, with his background at tight end. But to get our three best players on the field, that's where we put him, and he's doing really well."
As an added bonus, McFadden could be the linebacker best suited to play Mike against the spread offenses that gave Wisconsin such problems a year ago and that populate much of the schedule this season.
With his experience playing the outside linebacker positions, McFadden is comfortable playing in space, something that is demanded of middle linebackers playing against teams that spread the field.
"Our Mike linebacker, in certain schemes against a spread offense, has to play like an outside linebacker at times because [opponents] remove the other backers so far," Bielema said. "I think that's a little niche he has over those other guys."
Bielema announced that oft-injured defensive lineman Brandon Hoey has played his last snap.
Hoey, who underwent back surgery in the spring as a final attempt to get on the field, just couldn't get healthy enough to continue to play.
"Basically yesterday I had a conversation late last night, I asked him to sleep on it, and he decided to hang it up," Bielema said.
Bielema said the program would pursue getting a medical scholarship for Hoey, and the third-year sophomore was welcome to stay around the program as much as he wished to.
"The thing the doctors felt good about, is they felt they could get his back to being healthy, like you and I healthy," Bielema said. "Just not necessarily putting on full pads and going out banging against 300 pound people."
Through two years on campus, Hoey saw no game action.
Chapman bouncing back
Recovering from a torn ACL that occurred last Nov. 3 against Ohio State, defensive tackle Jason Chapman has made it back to being fully cleared physically and has participated in the first four days of practice.
The coaching staff will likely rein in Chapman somewhat, holding him out of one practice on days when the team practices twice.
As he continues to get comfortable playing again, there is noticeable improvement.
"Chappy was a lot better today," Bielema said. "Yesterday, because we were in pads for the first time… bottom line it was the fourth day in, today was a lot better for him."
Because of lower body tightness, tight end Travis Beckum didn't practice with the full team Thursday. Beckum ran routes and caught passes on the sidelines, and his coach didn't seem too concerned. "We feel he's physically ready … we just don't want to push something and make it become an issue," Bielema said.
Recovering from ACL surgery, wide receiver Richard Kirtley sat out practice with soreness in his knee.
Before camp started there was some talk that coming off of shoulder surgery defensive tackle Mike Newkirk could be limited somewhat in practice.
That's not the case.
"'Newk' put on a show out there today that I haven't seen out of him before," Bielema said.