From One Badger to Another

The Achilles injury that will sideline Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel for the 2020 season could provide more opportunity for another former University of Wisconsin player
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Linebacker Vince Biegel is popular with his Miami Dolphins teammates because of the energy he brings to the practice field on a daily basis, and he also contributed last season as a pass rusher.

Those are elements the team will miss now that Biegel officially has been placed on injured reserve because of the torn Achilles tendon he sustained in practice Tuesday.

But the Dolphins have other players who can provide the kind of pass rushing that Biegel did, and one of those happens to be fellow University of Wisconsin alum Andrew Van Ginkel.

The 2019 fifth-round pick was limited to six games as a rookie because of a leg injury that landed him on injured reserve early in the season, but he showed enough in the final weeks to suggest he could make a clear impact in his second year in the NFL.

Truth is, that could have happened even without Biegel getting injured because Van Ginkel just looks like the superior athlete of the two.

Van Ginkel had 15 tackles in his six games in 2019 with one sack (against the Jets) and one fumble recovery. His most impressive stat, however, was the four tackles for loss.

He was tied for third on the team in that category with defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. The team leaders were Biegel and fellow linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who had seven each.

But here's what's important here: Eguavoen and Godchaux each played all 16 games, and Biegel played 15. Van Ginkel played six, and his tackles for loss projected to between 10 or 11 for a full season.

Van Ginkel had two of his tackles for loss against the New England Patriots in the season finale when he had a season-high six overall tackles.

So he finished the season on a high note, then went to work on getting himself ready for a bigger 2020 contribution.

"I think he’s had a good offseason," head coach Brian Flores said. "He really works hard. His strength is up. I think the first-to-second-year leap, as some would call it, is an important one. I think he’s kind of taken that seriously and made a lot of improvements, and you can kind of see it in his game right now. Whether or not that translates into on-field production, that remains to be seen, but I’m happy with where he is."

Van Ginkel and Biegel did not play together at Wisconsin because Biegel's final year there was 2016 and Van Ginkel arrived in 2017.

But you just know that Badgers bond will kick in and Biegel will be rooting for Van Ginkel.

For his part, Biegel took to Twitter to talk about his injury.

"I had the unfortunate news of finding out that I tore my Achilles at practice yesterday," Biegel tweeted. "To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I know my Father in Heaven has put this challenge in my life to overcome. I KNOW I will come out a stronger player, husband, father, and man.. It brings me great comfort that I get to go through this recovery journey with my wife and daughter, family, coaches, teammates, and staff of the Miami Dolphins who have believed in me. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me and my family. Your thoughts and prayers have meant more to me than you know. I can’t wait to be on the field in 2021."

As we discussed in an earlier story, the timing of Biegel's injury isn't ideal — is it ever, though? — because he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next spring.