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Monday, November 5, 2012
Big Ten Monday personnel roundup

By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett

Some key personnel notes from around the Big Ten entering Week 11.

Let's go ...


Quarterback Denard Robinson (elbow) made improvement in practice Sunday, but his status for the Northwestern game will be determined later in the week. Devin Gardner, who started for Robinson and played well in the Minnesota win, will share snaps with Robinson in practice. Gardner has moved into the No. 2 role on the depth chart, ahead of Russell Bellomy, whose playing status coach Brady Hoke declined to address Monday.

Robinson's injury likely won't last the rest of the season, Hoke said, and if he's healthy enough, he'll start against the 24th-ranked Wildcats. Gardner, who has played wide receiver most of this season, will move back to quarterback for the 2013 campaign, which was the plan all along.

Hoke is optimistic DE Mario Ojemudia will play against Northwestern after missing the Minnesota game. Ojemudia didn't travel to Minnesota.

Danny O'Brien or Curt Phillips? Head coach Bret Bielema says he knows which quarterback will start for him this week, but -- like he did earlier this season before Joel Stave became the starter --  Bielema isn't telling. Bielema said he will inform the team Tuesday who the starter is, but both quarterbacks will be off limits to the media and no announcement will be made before Saturday. Bielema did say that both quarterbacks practiced well during the bye week and that he expected to go with one guy on Saturday instead of playing both O'Brien and Phillips.

Starting left tackle Ricky Wagner, who has been out since the Purdue game with a right knee injury, practiced in full last week and is expected to be fully ready for this week's game at Indiana. Ryan Groy, who has been starting in Wagner, can slide back into his customary guard spot.


Top cornerback Nick VanHoose (shoulder) and backup cornerback Quinn Evans (leg) both likely will return for the Wildcats on Saturday against Michigan. Both men were injured in an Oct. 20 game against Nebraska and sat out the following week against Iowa. VanHoose is listed as a starter on this week's depth chart.


RB Rex Burkhead (knee) continues to make progress, but he won't return to the field until he's 100 percent, coach Bo Pelini said. Burkhead has missed Nebraska's past two games after aggravating the knee early in an Oct. 20 game at Northwestern.

Junior cornerback Antonio Bell is off the team for an unspecified violation of team rules, Pelini said. Bell, who has played special teams most of his career, has three tackles in four games this fall.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez said Monday he's still a bit bothered by an ankle injury. Then again, he rushed for 205 yards Saturday against Michigan State.


Running back Josh Ferguson (hip) is expected to return this week against Minnesota after not traveling to Saturday's game at Ohio State. Coach Tim Beckman said Ferguson is working out with the team.

Starting linebacker Jonathan Brown (shoulder) will be evaluated today after leaving the Ohio State game. Beckman will know more Tuesday about Brown's status for Minnesota.


The Gophers could be without top wide receiver A.J. Barker for another week after he aggravated his injured right ankle in warmups before Saturday's contest against Michigan. Coach Jerry Kill said Sunday that Barker will attempt to practice this week after missing most of the workouts last week. Left tackle Ed Olson (ankle) is getting closer to a return but won't be out there until he's 100 percent, Kill said.


One change on the depth chart for Iowa is that junior cornerback Ricardo Allen, in his third season as a starter, is listed as a co-starter with redshirt freshman Frankie Williams. Allen had a rough performance Saturday against Penn State's receiving corps.