Running on empty? Not Willis McGahee

Laughter may be the best medicine, the best vitamin supplement, the best energy drink. Laughter may be the reason Willis McGahee, the Broncos' soon-to-be-30 running back, believes he has plenty of carries left in the football tank.

"I was out there just laughing," McGahee said about playing against Cincinnati on Sunday. "I felt good. I felt happy. The game was still so fun to me. This is what I want to do, where I want to be. If it still feels like that, you know you should still be doing it.

"My body feels great, my mind is right, it was good to come through, get to work and get the job done when they needed the job done."

McGahee, 29, pounded away for 101 yards on 28 carries, helping Denver overcome a slew of injuries, including one to running back Knowshon Moreno.

It was McGahee's first 100-yard rushing game since the 2009 season finale, when he was with Baltimore, and the most carries he's had in a game since the 14th game of the 2007 season. It also was a chance for the 235-pounder to show he could run hard in the middle of the field, take care of the ball and push the pile.

All things Broncos coach John Fox wants in his running game and why McGahee was the team's chief target in free agency.

"Willis was ready to go, for sure," Moreno said. "We knew going into the game we were going to have to run the ball, and he did it."

Moreno said he's feeling "good, closer to coming back," and said he has started to run some. He said he will try to practice this week to test his injured hamstring.

"It's just getting out there and seeing how I feel," Moreno said. "And that's what this week is going to be about."

McGahee has shown what he can do. So when Moreno is ready to go, the Broncos might amend their original plan that Moreno would start and be the primary runner and McGahee would be the change-of-pace runner when the offense got inside the opponent's 20-yard line, or in short-yardage situations.

But McGahee isn't campaigning. "I'll do whatever they want me to," he said.

"We've always done it by committee — who has a hot hand," Fox said.

Lance Ball rushed six times Sunday.

"In hindsight, we probably should have given Lance more touches and maybe taken a little bit off Willis," Fox said. "But, like everything, there is a trust and experience factor that go into it."

In his nine previous seasons as a head coach — all with Carolina — Fox routinely divided the carries among his top two tailbacks. In three of those years, the Panthers' primary ballcarrier received 42.1 percent of the carries or less. In eight years, the primary runner received 54.8 percent of the carries or less.

Only once in those nine years did a runner top 60 percent of the carries. That was Stephen Davis in 2003 — a Super Bowl season for the Panthers — when Davis got just over that mark.

"Willis has been around," Fox said. "He was a very well-thought-of runner in college and has been in the National Football League with a few different teams, and he knows the NFL game. He understands the defenses. He understands what people are trying to do. He understands what we're doing."

McGahee said a committee approach is fine by him.

"When he says (by committee) he means it. This week he just told me, 'Look, you're getting it 25 times,' and I did because that's what was needed. When they hand me the ball, whether it's one, 10 or 30 times, I'll run it as hard as I can and let things happen."

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