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Robinson’s bowl role uncertain

Senior confident he’ll play somewhere Jan. 1

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Ohio State defensive back Christian Bryant, left, knocks the ball away from Michigan's Denard Robinson causing a fumble during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio.

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ANN ARBOR — Denard Robinson knows for a fact that he will play for the Michigan football team in its final game of the season.

But the senior quarterback/tailback won’t disclose what capacity he’ll play Jan. 1 when the No. 19 Wolverines face No. 11 South Carolina in the Outback Bowl in Tampa.

“I know I’m going to be playing in this game,” Robinson said Monday. “Whatever it takes to be on the field, I’m going to do it.”

Robinson hasn't thrown a pass in a game since Oct. 27 at Nebraska, when he suffered an injury to the ulnar nerve in his right arm. The injury affected how he throws the football, and Robinson said that while he feels good, he doesn't believe he's thrown to his capabilities.

"When we start practicing again, I'll have more to say," Robinson said.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke said the Wolverines will resume practices Friday in preparation for the Outback Bowl. Michigan (8-4) hasn’t practiced or played since its 26-21 loss Nov. 24 at Ohio State.

“For all of them that go through the grind, it’s good for all of them to heal up a little bit,” Hoke said of the down time. “We’ll do some lifting and some running this week, but to get them away from the pounding a little bit helps them along.”

Hoke said Michigan will travel to Tampa on Dec. 23, nine days before the bowl game.

“It helps,” Robinson said of the layoff. “It always helps to get rest, for anybody. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to get healthy. I feel pretty good right now, to be honest with you.”

But, Robinson added, “I’m not throwing how I want to throw.”

Robinson didn’t elaborate on whether he had any residual numbness in his throwing arm, nor did he discuss what would keep him from throwing comfortably.

“I’ve got to keep going, keep trying, and just keep getting treatment,” Robinson said.

Robinson leads Michigan in rushing with 1,166 yards on 154 carries and has seven touchdowns despite sitting out two games after suffering his injury. The senior returned to the lineup Nov. 17 in a 42-17 win against Iowa. Robinson ran for 98 yards on 13 carries against the Hawkeyes, then ran for 122 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries a week later in the loss at Ohio State.

As the game at Ohio State wore on, Robinson’s role diminished. He carried the ball only four times in the second half.

“I don’t think we had enough plays for me to play in the second half,” Robinson said. “You had 21 plays in the second half, and in order for me to have more plays, you have to have more plays. Twenty-one plays in the second half wasn’t good enough.”

Hoke said Devin Gardner, who played at quarterback in Michigan’s final four regular-season games, injured his ankle against Ohio State, but Hoke expects him to be ready for the Outback Bowl.

Also, a Michigan spokesman confirmed that fullback Stephen Hopkins has left the team. In three seasons, the junior had 48 carries for 194 yards and a touchdown for the Wolverines. Hoke did not elaborate on Hopkins’ departure.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.

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