Ball to miss part of camp with assault injuries

Badgers RB Montee Ball will miss practice time while recovering from injuries suffered in assault.

MADISON, Wis. — It appears the unprovoked assault that sent University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball to a hospital early Wednesday morning will force him to miss a considerable portion of the Badgers' preseason camp.

At least, that's the belief of Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who discussed Ball's health Thursday morning during a taping of WISC-TV Madison sports talk show "Sidelines."

"I'm fairly confident he won't be with us for the first part of fall camp," Bielema said. "Hopefully, we'll get him back before game week starts up. It should be around that time."

Ball, a Heisman Trophy candidate, suffered a concussion and facial injuries when he was attacked by five men in the 500 block of University Avenue. Ball was walking home with friends at 2:15 a.m. when the perpetrators knocked him to the ground and kicked him before fleeing. 

Wisconsin begins its fall practice schedule Monday, and Ball's absence will provide more opportunities for backup running backs James White, Melvin Gordon, Jeff Lewis and Vontee Jackson.

White rushed for 713 yards last season, one year after he was the team's leading rusher as a freshman with 1,052 yards. During Wisconsin's spring game, Gordon carried 30 times for 159 yards with a touchdown while Ball and White were sidelined to avoid injury.

"If Montee can't go for a while, one of the things I probably would have struggled the most with is, ‘How do I limit him during fall camp?' " Bielema told WISC-TV. "He may not be able to be full contact. I'm excited to see those other guys work."

Last season, Ball ran for 1,923 yards with 33 touchdowns and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Wisconsin opens its season Sept. 1 at home against Northern Iowa.