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Michigan Wolverines flashy wide receiver Ronnie Bell out for season

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR — Michigan Stadium was silent when Ronnie Bell went down with an injury in the season opener as more than 100,000 fans feared the worst.

It was almost as if they knew what was coming.

Two days later, coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed that Bell is out for the year with a knee injury.

“It’s a shame,” Harbaugh said Monday.

Bell had a 76-yard touchdown reception and returned a punt 31 yards before injuring his right knee in a 47-14 win over Western Michigan.

“It will be very difficult to replace Ronnie Bell,” Harbaugh said. “Really tough. Seasoned. Experienced. Tremendous blocker. So competitive and such a gamer.

“Now somebody has to try to fill those shoes.”

Harbaugh appeared to get defensive when asked more than once by reporters about having Bell, perhaps his best player, on special teams.

“The best players play,” he said, recalling Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson returned punts at Michigan.

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.”