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UM's Hoke not ruling out return by Peppers this season

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan has maintained a stance of not discussing injuries except in the cases of those players who have suffered those that are season-ending.

There are several players expected to be major contributors this fall who have been sidelined for much of the season, including linebacker Desmond Morgan and freshman Jabrill Peppers.

Peppers was expected to be the spark for the secondary this season, but he's only played in half the games this season, and sparingly because of an undisclosed injury. He was on the sideline last Saturday at Rutgers, because he is a New Jersey native and was able to visit his family.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke during his Wednesday news conferences has never indicated Peppers will not return this season. Michigan opens the second half of the season Saturday night against Penn State at Michigan Stadium.

"I don't think I have, no," Hoke said.

He was asked if Peppers is out for the season.

"I would have said something, wouldn't I?" Hoke said.

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison on Monday, two days after the Wolverines had given up 402 passing yards and multiple big pass plays at Rutgers, talked about how much Peppers' absence has meant.

"Any time you don't have guys in your unit that you're really, really counting on, it's going to hurt your unit," Mattison said. "There's a reason one guy is a first-teamer or one guy has earned the right to be a first-teamer. When you take that guy away, it hurts you. There's a few guys playing with great toughness that may not be 100 percent. That's football. Any time you don't have the guys you're counting on, that hurts you."

Hoke this week did announce running back Derrick Green is out for the season with a broken clavicle suffered in the Rutgers game. He said Wednesday that he will go with the order of backs in the depth chart — De'Veon Smith, Justice Hayes and/or Drake Johnson.