ANN ARBOR - Injured Michigan wide receiver Mario Manningham will begin practicing this week and could play as early as Saturday against Ball State, coach Lloyd Carr said.
Manningham has missed the last three games while recovering from knee surgery, but he is expected to return to action for the No. 2 Wolverines sometime in the final three weeks of the regular season, Carr said yesterday.
"I don't know when it will be, but I have every confidence that unless there's a setback that he's going to play pretty shortly," Carr told the Detroit News. "He can run, I can tell you that. He can run."
Manningham had 24 catches for 527 yards and nine touchdowns in the first six games of the season. He was injured against Michigan State on Oct. 7 and has not played since then.
The absence has taken away the undefeated Wolverines' deep threat and has forced them to play even more conservatively than normal.
With wins over Ball State this week and Indiana next week, the Wolverines could be looking at a potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup with archrival Ohio State on Nov. 18.