MADISON, Wis. -- Coach Bret Bielema says the seventh-ranked Badgers won't miss a beat at cornerback Saturday when Marcus Cromartie replaces Devin Smith against Northern Illinois.
Cromartie was inserted midway through the first quarter of the Badgers' game against Oregon State last Saturday when Smith went out with a left foot injury. Cromartie had seven tackles in the 35-0 rout of the Beavers.
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"I think he jumped in Saturday and played extremely well, and he was getting a lot of reps at nickel as well," Bielema said of the redshirt junior who also had three tackles during the Badgers' 51-17 season-opening win over UNLV.
Smith was scheduled to meet with a doctor Monday to determine severity of the injury, and Bielema has yet to learn if the starting cornerback is done for the season. Bielema tweeted Sunday night that Smith would be out for an "extended period of time" and said Monday that the senior's season is in jeopardy.
During camp, Cromartie worked with the No. 1 defense when Smith grappled with health problems.
"Devin Smith is a good football player," Bielema said. "Devin went through a two-week window during fall camp that he was a limited rep guy, I believe it was an abdominal strain that he had. Crow worked with the ones for an extended period of time. He worked with the ones a lot."
Cromartie had three tackles and saw time on special teams units during five games in 2010. He spent part of the summer working out with cousin Antonio Cromartie, a cornerback for the New York Jets, and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.
He came into camp third on the depth chart behind senior Antonio Fenelus and Smith.
"Crow's a neat kid," Bielema said of Cromartie, who lived in Mansfield, Texas, when he was recruited but is a New Orleans native. "He came in and was a kid who was a Hurricane Katrina transplant, he was from New Orleans.
"He's really stepped it up in the last year and I noticed a certain sense of maturity going back to last spring. I challenged him, `Hey, you don't have to always be the funny guy. You always don't have to be this person that everybody is there to make a point of. Just be the (player) that you can be."'