With the season-opening battle with No. 4 Ohio State just 16 days away at the time of this article’s publication, Minnesota was dealt a major scare when redshirt senior wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell left the team’s August 12 practice with a right leg injury.

The Golden Gophers’ second-leading receiver in 2020 with 430 yards and a touchdown on 22 catches, the Kankakee, Illinois native is expected to serve as the team’s No. 1 receiving option in 2021 following Rashod Bateman’s departure for the NFL Draft.

Fortunately, addressing the media Monday, fifth-year head coach P.J. Fleck said there is still a possibility Autman-Bell is healed enough to suit up against the Buckeyes on Thursday, September 2.

From an individual standpoint, Autman-Bell has some history within reach this fall. His 78 career receptions are 52 shy of Omar Douglas and Drew Wolitarsky for tenth on the program’s all-time list and he is 593 yards behind Luke Leverson for cracking the top-10 in that category.

After an 11-2 campaign in 2019, culminating in an Outback Bowl victory over Auburn, Minnesota limped to a 3-4 mark a year ago.

Hoping to return to bowl eligibility, the clash with Ohio State – which kicks at 8 p.m. ET on FOX – represents about as tough of a first game as possible. If the Golden Gophers are to pull the upset in front of their home crowd, they will likely need Autman-Bell to be available for quarterback Tanner Morgan, a fellow redshirt senior.