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Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Nate Stanley feels less pressure than he did in 2017. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

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IOWA CITY, Ia. — Even off a bye week, No. 18 Iowa’s injury report is still a bit cloudy.

Brandon Smith (ankle) remains out for Saturday’s 3 p.m. showdown at 16th-ranked Wisconsin, while linebacker Kristian Welch and tight end Nate Wieting sound questionable. Welch has missed the past two games. Wieting sat two Saturdays ago at Northwestern.

“We’re hoping to get Welch and Wieting back,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, “but right now, they haven’t done much so far — so not optimistic we’ll have those guys once the game comes closer.

Welch’s injury has lingered for some time. He got “nicked up” Oct. 12 against Penn State and hasn’t played since. The injury was originally classified as a stinger, and Ferentz made sure to emphasize Welch’s issue isn’t a concussion.    

“Injuries are funny,” Ferentz said. “Stingers, concussions — it could be three days or three months. Some injuries are a little bit more predictable. Stingers aren’t. It’s just a matter of being able to regain strength and maintain it.”  

The one sliver of good news is right guard Kyler Schott seems to be progressing nicely. The walk-on, who started against Rutgers (Sept. 7) and Iowa State (Sept. 14) before missing the past five games, could return to his starting spot if he finishes out this practice week strong.

“We’ll see how the week goes, but we plan on playing him,” Ferentz said. “He’ll play extensively if he’s able to do so.

“It’s a possibility (he starts). He was the starter before he left. So far, so good after two days (of practice).”

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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