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Michigan’s Drake Johnson might play vs. Illinois

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Drake Johnson

Drake Johnson, who has had his share of injuries during his Michigan career, appears ready to contribute.

Johnson, a fifth-year senior running back, has not played this season while recovering from a strained muscle suffered in practice before the season. But coach Jim Harbaugh said Tuesday on the Big Ten call that Johnson is fully healthy and could play Saturday against Illinois at Michigan Stadium.

“Drake Johnson has been chomping at the bit, ready to get going,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’ll be ready to go this week from what I’ve seen in practice and where he’s at physically.”

Johnson has endured two anterior cruciate ligament tears and last spring was run over by a forklift while stretching in the indoor track building as part of preparations for his track team work.

“He had a setback in practice where he strained a muscle and that set him back, so he’s been rehabbing from that,” Harbaugh said. “He’s done a nice job getting himself back ready to play. He’s playing well, he’s running, he’s moving, I can recognize that’s Drake Johnson. He’s up to near 100 percent.”

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Johnson will join an established four-man running back rotation – De’Veon Smith, Ty Isaac, Chris Evans and Karan Higdon. They have combined for 14 rushing touchdowns. Fullback Khalid Hill has scored seven rushing touchdowns on 13 carries.

“The thing I like maybe the most is there’s multiple guys who can run, block, catch the ball out of the backfield and do it at a very high level,” Harbaugh said.