Wolverines LB Josh Ross expected to be OK after suffering shoulder injury

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan lost a steadying, forceful influence on defense when linebacker Josh Ross left the field late in the first half of Saturday's 20-13 win over Rutgers with what appeared to be an injury to his left shoulder.

Ross was taken to the medical tent on the sideline, eventually emerged and ran down the sideline to rejoin the team before the end of the half. Later, Michigan announced Ross was questionable for the second half because of a stinger, and he was on the sideline in uniform very emphatically appearing to indicate he wanted to play.

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson tracks the play during the first quarter.

He was held out of the second half, but finished with six tackles, including two for loss. He leads the team through four games with 29 tackles.

“He’s going to be OK,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. “He was working through something and didn’t quite get the strength back to be cleared to go back in the game.”

More: 'They found a way': No. 19 Michigan gets gritty, holds off Rutgers to move to 4-0

Kalel Mullings and Junior Colson, who recovered the Rutgers’ fumble in the final minutes of the game to seal the win, saw more playing time in Ross’ absence.

“We practice situations like that all the time in practice,” linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green, who finished with a game-high eight tackles, said. “When your number’s called, you need to be ready and need to do your job and step up to the plate. That’s what Junior Colson did, that’s what Kalel Mullings did. Super proud of those guys.”

Ross remained active on the sideline and helped the linebackers when he could offer insight.

“He was talking to me the whole time just telling me what he saw previously in the game,” Hill-Green said. “Josh is a dude. He would go out there with a broken arm, they just wouldn’t let him. I’m proud of him for being a great teammate and helping me out so much.”

Disappointed Scarlet Knights

Rutgers entered the game 3-0 and after trailing 20-3 at halftime, outscored Michigan 10-0 in the second half and had chances to pull out the win.

“We came out here and said we’re going to find out how we stack up,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “So we know — a little bit short.”

Schiano said he was pleased with how his team did not let up even after trailing entering halftime.

“They kept believing,” he said. “They didn’t judge. It could have got ugly there at 20-3, and they kept playing. We certainly had an opportunity to win the game. That’s what hurt. No one’s here for moral victories. It hurts a lot.

“We made too many mistakes to win, and we still almost won.”

Taking the W

Harbaugh described the win several times as “gritty” and mentioned that there aren’t additional points given for style or how “pretty” a win is.

Michigan, which has had the luxury of being at home the last four weeks to start the season, is 4-0 and preparing for back-to-back road games against Wisconsin and Nebraska. While the Wolverines know their performance was uneven and certainly a struggle the second half on offense, they weren’t offering apologies for getting the win.

“We were all happy and thank God to be 4-0,” tight end Erick All said. “Everybody was pretty much saying a win’s a win. That was a good game and, everybody knew it was a close one and we got out by the skin of our teeth. It felt the same (as the other wins) to be honest. It felt like a 60-to-something blowout.”

Quarterback Cade McNamara said this challenge from Rutgers was a good learning experience.

“We’re not going to blow everyone out, obviously, so we felt what it feels like, and we’ve got to move on and be better,” McNamara said.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @achengelis