Willis McGahee says he feels, and expects, competition at RB

To hear Willis McGahee tell it, his decade in the NFL has been his response to those who have counted him out or pushed him aside. He suffered a devastating knee injury in his final game at the University of Miami. Now, more than 10 years later, he faces a substantial challenge to make the Broncos' roster, due to his age and contract.

"There's always going to be heat and competition, because every year they're going to bring in a running back," McGahee said. "All I can do is be Willis McGahee. I can't control what can happen. I can just go out there and do my job."

McGahee did what players have the option to do for the bulk of this offseason. Instead of working out at the Broncos' Dove Valley complex the majority of the time, McGahee worked out in Miami. Before this week's mandatory three-day minicamp, the Broncos' offseason sessions have been voluntary.

McGahee and left tackle Ryan Clady have been the only Broncos veterans who have not spent their offseasons at the Broncos' facility. Facing the threat of a fine for missing this week's mandatory work, McGahee reported with the other Broncos on Monday night and was on the practice field Tuesday.

His first full practice back wasn't all that eventful. McGahee received a smattering of snaps in team drills in Tuesday's main practice. Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball got the bulk of the work with the first two units.

McGahee was asked if he thought he would have received more playing time had he attended team workouts in recent weeks. He replied, "Probably, but hey, we've got seven other running backs."

McGahee, 31, has two years remaining on a four-year, $9.5 million contract he signed in 2011. He is scheduled to earn a $2.5 million base salary this season and a $2 million base salary in 2014.

He finished the 2012 season on injured reserve after he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament and a compression fracture of his right knee early in the second quarter of the Broncos' 30-23 victory over San Diego. McGahee said Tuesday he has been medically cleared to take part fully in the team's practices and that he has had no problems with the knee.

"Willis has had a very successful career, and with our young running corps, they can learn a lot from him," Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker said. "Whether it's in the film-study room or on the field, it's nice to have (McGahee) back."

McGahee cited family reasons for his decision to stay in Miami in recent weeks and said he had no regrets, even if it has given Hillman and Ball a chance to snare some snaps, or all of McGahee's potential playing time. He said the Broncos probably would have given the two youngsters a long look even if he had attended all of the team's workouts.

"I probably would have been behind the 8-ball anyway," McGahee said. "(It's) a younger group. Just being real, right? I can't worry about what those guys are doing. Those guys are talented. I like them. I like the way they run."

McGahee said coaches had prepared him for his potentially light workload in Tuesday's practice.

This isn't the first time McGahee has done most of his offseason work in Miami in his tenure with the Broncos. He had hoped for a new contract after his 1,199-yard rushing season in 2011 and spent much of last year's offseason program in Florida.

He returned to attend the team's mandatory minicamp last June, and when he reported for training camp last July he still was the Broncos' starter. He sees a different landscape on the depth chart after another birthday, another injury and the Broncos taking Ball in the second round of April's draft a year after selecting Hillman in the third round of the 2012 draft.

"(Competition) is always going to rank high to me, because the other guys are younger," McGahee said.

The Broncos could have fined McGahee if he missed camp this week, because he is under contract. Clady cannot be fined, because he has not signed his one-year tender offer as the Broncos' designated franchise player (for $9.828 million).

The Broncos' second practice Tuesday — largely a walk-through that McGahee said he expected to be more involved in —  was closed. They will have two practices Wednesday and one workout Thursday.

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