Wisconsin senior LB Ethan Armstrong hopes to play in opener

Wisconsin starting linebacker Ethan Armstrong, who has missed all but one day of fall camp, told reporters he thinks he will play in the opener against Massachusetts on Aug. 31.

Armstrong (6 feet 2, 225 pounds), a senior who was third on the team with 93 tackles last season, suffered an unspecified injury to his left leg on the second day of camp.

"I'll be ready to play in the opener," he said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It is just a matter of when I'll be back for practice."

He wants to return no later than Aug. 21, which is the day the Badgers begin preparing for UMass.

"Obviously that is my own schedule," he said. "That is not what the doctors or Coach Andersen have said. They all have to clear me in order for me to get back. But that is the earliest I'll be able to come back."

Armstrong missed spring practice while recovering from surgery on his left shoulder, and all the missed time could be concerning to a defensive staff installing a new scheme. The Badgers were a 4-3 team under former coach Bret Bielema, but new coach Gary Andersen wants to use a 3-4 as the base defense.

Armstrong and senior Chris Borland are returning starters at linebacker. Borland played in the middle last season, with Armstrong starting on the outside. Armstrong would play one of the inside spots in the 3-4.

Depth is an issue with Armstrong out. Sophomore Joe Schobert, a walk-on who played sparingly last season as a true freshman, has ascended to the first team because of Armstrong's injury.

Despite all the missed practice time, Armstrong is trying to take the long view.

"In the long term, this is probably best for my body anyway," he said. "It is a long season and getting beat up in training camp isn't going to do me any good, either."

Another projected starter coming back from an injury is junior guard Kyle Costigan (6-5, 315). He played in 12 games last fall, starting nine times. Costigan dislocated his kneecap in against Nebraska last season and missed one game after arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He also missed the Rose Bowl because of a concussion. Costigan then had to sit out spring practice while rehabbing following microfracture surgery on his right knee.

He is battling senior Zac Matthias (6-5, 318) for a starting spot at right guard. Costigan is the better player, but he might not be ready to go by the opener. He told the Journal Sentinel that in addition to trying to get into playing shape, he has other things to worry about as well.

"Before, I was just an 'effort guy' who didn't have the best technique," he said. "(Offensive line) Coach (T.J.) Woods is trying to correct that. He is a technician."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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