MADISON, Wis. - Injuries have hobbled the Wisconsin Badgers a bit through the first half of their season, but it seems like Bret Bielema's squad is getting a little healthier as they prepare to take on Purdue this Saturday.
For starters, right guard Kyle Costigan practiced all week after he sat out with a knee injury during Wisconsin's 31-14 win over Illinois. Costigan initially hurt his knee against Nebraska two weeks ago, but he was fitted with a brace and toughed out the last half of the game. Bielema said Costigan looked good in practice this week, and he isn't surprised that the redshirt sophomore is already back out on the field.
"He just is an incredibly tough individual," Bielema said Thursday after practice. "Doctors thought he'd probably make it back (this week), just knowing Costy and how he came through the first time."
The Badgers were a little thin at defensive end earlier in the season, as David Gilbert, Brendan Kelly and Pat Muldoon were all sidelined at different times. However, all three are relatively healthy and are expected to play against Purdue. Bielema said redshirt junior Tyler Dippel is still a little sore after he injured his shoulder against Illinois, and he'll be a game-time decision Saturday.
In the secondary, strong safety Shelton Johnson and cornerback Peniel Jean practiced all week with the team. Johnson played against Illinois after breaking his arm against Oregon State, and should be good to start against Purdue. As for Jean, who broke his foot in fall camp, Bielema said the redshirt sophomore isn't quite ready to get back into the game plan at cornerback just yet.
"He's there, he's just like a reserve with several other guys," Bielema said. "It's been one of those things where he came back a little bit last week, he wasn't quite where he needed to be. We did put him on special teams depth this week, so there's a good chance he'll get into the game."
On the other hand, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Dallas Lewallen isn't quite ready for game action after he dislocated knee last season. The Badgers are hoping Lewallen can add some extra depth to the offensive line soon, but for now he'll be limited to emergency roles only.
"I feel bad for him," Bielema said. "He's trying, he's competing. He will come with us (and) on an emergency basis he could be there, but as of right now he's not in the plans."
With half of the season still to go, it'll be important for the Badgers to stay healthy for the stretch run. With a tough game against Purdue up next, the Badgers will need all hands on deck if they want to stay in the race for another Big Ten title.
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