Smith's absence to test Badgers' DB depth

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema expects to have a more definitive update on starting cornerback Devin Smith by the end of the day.

But it doesn't look good.

Smith suffered a left foot injury in Saturday's win against Oregon State. He sustained the injury in the first quarter and left the field on crutches with his foot wrapped.

Bielema said Smith definitely will miss this week's game against Northern Illinois. But he also mentioned the possibility of Smith returning for a fifth year if he misses the season.

Bottom line: don't expect to see Smith for a while.

Wisconsin's cornerback depth isn't great, and the Badgers need good play and sustained health from junior Marcus Cromartie, who will take Smith's spot on the field. Cromartie has displayed good skills but has had some trouble staying healthy early in his career.

After Cromartie, Wisconsin lists freshmen Peniel Jean and Darius Hillary. So losing Smith for an extended period could sting.

Keep an eye on Cromartie this week against Northern Illinois, which boasts an excellent quarterback in Chandler Harnish and has scored 91 points in its first two games. Wisconsin's defense will be tested at Soldier Field.