Chris Autman-Bell saw action in only two plays during the Gophers' 14-10 upset loss to Bowling Green because of a lower leg injury, but coach P.J. Fleck expressed optimism that his top wide receiver can return for Saturday's Big Ten game at Purdue.
"He practiced last night, so that's a really good sign,'' Fleck on Monday said of Autman-Bell, who had one catch for 9 yards on the Gophers' first play from scrimmage Saturday. "He was out there running around with the wideouts and catching balls.''
Autman-Bell suffered the injury on Aug. 12 during training camp, and he missed both the season opener against Ohio State and the next game against Miami (Ohio). He returned on Sept. 18 at Colorado, catching four passes for a game-high 79 yards.
After exiting the game against Bowling Green, Autman-Bell remained on the sideline, occasionally testing his leg.
"Our trainers do an amazing job of keeping all our players safe and healthy, and they felt that it was not right for him to go back in the game," Fleck said. "… Last night, they allowed him to practice. That's a good sign."
Wide receiver Dylan Wright, who entered the game with a team-leading 169 receiving yards and two touchdown catches, had a limited role.
"He is a very good player," Fleck said, "but we need more consistency out of everybody who is playing right now. Him included, which I know he will do a good job of and ultimately it comes down on me and coaching and finding creative ways to be able to make sure that that all fits."
Thrill for 'Trill'
Defensive lineman DeAngelo "Trill'' Carter had a productive game against Bowling Green. He had three tackles, two for loss, one sack, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry.
"Trill has done a great job of just getting better every single day," Fleck said. "… He's really good at his technique right now. He's using it to his advantage. He's not the biggest guy, but he plays with such pad level, such explosion and willingness. He's a very active player. This was by far his best game of the year."
Calling it tight
Gophers defensive lineman Val Martin was called for an illegal formation penalty for lining up over the long snapper during a fourth-quarter field-goal attempt by Bowling Green. The Falcons missed the kick but got a first down because of the penalty. Fleck considered it a borderline call.
"Those splits are really tight down there," he said. "If you look at the center, his head's not covered, but his left shoulder to Val's left shoulder were touching. We've just got to make sure we're more detailed than that. … We have to teach it better. We can't leave 1% of gray area."
- Defensive tackle Rashad Cheney Jr. missed the past two games but is back with the team after tending to an unspecified personal matter, Fleck said.
- Defensive end MJ Anderson, who twice left the Bowling Green game because of a lower-body injury, should be available to play at Purdue, Fleck indicated.