Bell, who started 17 of 33 games, has 83 career receptions for 1,380 yards and five touchdowns. His absence leaves a void on and off the field.
“Everybody has to step up,” receiver A.J. Henning said. “That’s a major loss.”
Harbaugh expects Bells to keep leading from the sideline. The former star quarterback recalled having a season-ending injury at Michigan, when then-assistant coach Lloyd Carr encouraged him to stay involved.
“The best way to not feel left out is to help out,” Harbaugh said.
Cornelius Johnson and Mike Sainristill, with four starts each, have the most experience among Michigan’s remaining receivers.
Johnson has 22 career catches for 330 yards with four touchdowns. Sainristill has made 16 receptions for 224 yards and three scores.
Henning, who had a 74-yard run for a touchdown in the opener, is expected to fill in for Bell as the team’s punt returner and likely will have an increased role in the passing game.
Roman Wilson also will have an opportunity to play more, adding to his nine career catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Graduate transfer Daylen Baldwin, who previously played for Jackson State and Morgan State, showed his big-play ability in his Michigan debut with a 69-yard touchdown catch.
In addition to being productive on the field, Bell was popular off it with teammates who respected his work ethic and attitude.
“He’s like the heart and soul of the wide receiver room,” Henning said. “We’re all going to do our job, stepping up and filing that role. All the receivers, and everybody on offense, wants to do it for him.”
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