Willis McGahee

Willis McGahee Says He Could Start For The Cowboys

Former NFL Pro Bowl running back Willis McGahee joined us on Brown and Scoop on Play.it and iTunes. The former Ravens, Broncos, Bills, and Browns RB said he could still play in the NFL and start for the Dallas Cowboys.

“I can still play with some of these guys. The Browns got Duke Johnson, they’re alright. I’m more reaching for the Cowboys. Dallas Cowboys, you go ahead and bring me on in there.”

I asked could you start for the Cowboys right now.

“Yeah. Make it happen. I can start for whoever gives me a chance.”

McGahee also believes the Bills will go on a deep playoff run. He tells us the story of how his time ended in Buffalo and how what he said was taken out of context. Also, he talks about Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, his time at the University of Miami, and much more.

He begins talking about a potential NFL return at the 21:25 mark.

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Grid’s Miami Surge Sign NFL Veteran Willis McGahee

MIAMI – At least one athlete was signed at the National Pro Grid League (NPGL) Pro Day hosted by the Miami Surge, someone quite familiar with what it means to be a professional athlete.

Willis McGahee, who comes to Grid with well-established credentials as a pro athlete in the NFL, signed with the Surge on Sunday, one of eight teams in the NPGL.

Grid, in its second season and with a renewed contract with NBC Sports, is the world’s first professional spectator sport with two co-ed teams racing head-to-head in a two-hour match. It incorporates speed, skill and strategy in a test of endurance through a variety of weightlifting and body-weight elements.

The Surge hosted the fourth of six Pro Days across the country. Scouts and coaches from all eight NPGL teams attend each Pro Day looking for talent to fill out their rosters. And McGahee is now coming home to Miami.

When asked if he’s ready to be a Grid player, McGahee said: “That’s the whole game plan, yes sir.”

Once he sets his mind to playing a sport, McGahee can be dynamic.

He led the University of Miami to a national championship in the 2001-2002 season, he was a first-round NFL draft pick in 2003 and he went on to the Pro Bowl twice (2007, 2011).

A 6-0, 235-pound running back, McGahee said he has yet to retire from the NFL — he is a free agent and wants to play one or two more years.

While football is winding down for McGahee at age 33, he is but a rookie on the way up in Grid. He competed in Grid’s Los Angeles Pro Day recently before injuring his fingertips on the rope climb.

McGahee was asked if some sports fans would be surprised that a highly successful star from the well-established NFL would make the leap to the young Grid League.

“They can be shocked all they want,” said McGahee, also professing his love for the intense training required to be a good Grid athlete. “Why not get paid [to do this,] and why not do it with the Miami Surge, where I’m from?”

Surge team operator Mather Wiswall said he’s “excited” to have McGahee on his squad.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Wiswall said. “[McGahee] is extremely talented — raw talent in terms of the Grid. But he is super strong and athletic. And there’s nobody better in molding raw talent than [Surge Coach] Doug Chapman.”

McGahee spent much of Sunday trying to learn from athletes who are more experienced in Grid.

“I’m amazed at how everyone is doing toes-to-bar, butterfly pull-ups…,” McGahee said. “They have heart and desire. That [level] is where I want to get.”

Surge powerhouse player Nick Urankar, who was one of several Miami teammates at CrossFit Fortress during the Pro Day on Sunday, said he and the others are more than willing to help McGahee adjust.

How long that adjustment takes, however, is unknown.

“It’s tough (to know) without working with him and seeing him [in the gym], but he’s got a lot of power,” Urankar said. “It takes some time [to adjust]. It could be a couple of months and then we get huge results, and we move him where we need him. Or it could be shorter or longer. But for sure with him being from down here, it’s huge to help build our fan base.”

Another adjustment for McGahee will be the novelty of having female teammates — which is not something he is used to in the NFL.

McGahee, though, said teammates are teammates, no matter the gender, and he was looking forward to getting started.

One of his new teammates is Jenn Jones, who said McGahee will be a big draw for fans outside the fitness community.

“I think it will be amazing for the League and for our team to sell tickets and to hype up our fan base,” Jones said. “Plus, he’s super, super strong.

“I’m excited to have Doug [Chapman] work with him and get our athletes around him to see what he is capable of on the grid. I think most of his adjustment will be technical — how to move most efficiently for this sport. But he’s an athlete. He will pick things up quickly. We just need to give him the exposure.”

Beyond the Surge, Jones said it’s exciting that Grid is pulling athletes from a variety of platforms, including football, Olympic weightlifting and Cirque du Soleil, to name just three.

“The more outside athletes we can pull in,” Jones said, “the bigger Grid is going to get. And it gives athletes who can’t play their sport anymore this other competitive outlet.”

McGahee said his technique will need to be sharpened.

“I got it, but it’s not there fully,” he said. “I don’t expect to come in and be the go-to guy. It’s like football — you have to earn your spot.”

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Willis McGahee hopeful to join the National Pro Grid League

McGahee on the Grid: Former proCane RB and two-time NFL Pro Bowler Willis McGahee is a hopeful to join the National Pro Grid League, which will hold a “pro day” event in Miami this weekend. Grid, which touts itself the world’s first professional co-ed sport, is essentially Crossfit, but with teams. Two 14-person teams (split evenly between genders, with one of each over 40) race to complete 11 weightlifting and body-weight events. The league says there are eight teams, including the Miami Surge. McGahee, who lives in Miami, will sign with that outfit.

Those who perform well at pro day events may get invited to the league’s combine event in April. A Grid draft will follow. Athletes (yes, you, if you think you’re up to the challenge) can become eligible by signing up at GridReady.com. The league, which debuted last year, will make five appearances on NBC Sports Network this summer, which will also carry seven playoff matches.

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Willis McGahee trying out for National Rugby Football League

Former NFL All-Pro running back Willis McGahee is trying out for the National Rugby Football League, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

McGahee will try out for the league at its combine Jan. 12-15 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. According to the league's website, the combine is geared toward "elite" athletes with the following qualifications:

• Willing to make a career change by entering the world of professional rugby/RuXV™
• Who is currently in top physical condition and base athleticism
• "cross-over" athletes who have already proven their status in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and NCAA
• Rugby players on a D1 club side in the U.S.A., Canada, or Tier 1 rugby nation

The NRFL intends to begin play in 2015 with six to 12 franchises.

McGahee last played in 2013 for the Cleveland Browns, rushing 138 times for 377 yards and two touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl in 2007 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens and in 2011 as a member of the Denver Broncos. McGahee has four thousand-yard seasons over 10 NFL seasons, beginning in 2004 with the Buffalo Bills, who drafted him 23rd overall in the 2003 draft.

For his career, McGahee has 2,095 carries for 8,474 yards and 65 touchdowns.

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Willis McGahee holds football camp at Fontana Miller

Former Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee hosted his first youth football camp in California on Sunday at A.B. Miller High School in Fontana.
McGahee, who played 11 years in the NFL as a running back, wanted to try something new with his camp this year.

“I have done camps in Miami because I am from Florida, so it has always been there,” McGahee explained. “I thought why not expand and think outside the box.”

The Florida native was not sure what to expect when he decided to host a camp in the Inland Empire.

“It is a great experience, especially not being from this area, I did not know what the turnout would be,” he said.

McGahee was not the only person at the camp with NFL experience, Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward also attended McGahee’s camp as a coach. Ward and McGahee were teammates on the Cleveland Browns during the 2013 NFL season.

The NFL players partnered up with Miller football coach Justin Nast and his staff during the event.

“It was different (from previous camps),” McGahee said. “The coaches were really into it and helped me do things and showed me the way out here.”

The coaches broke up the participants into groups based on their football positions.

One of the participants was A.B. Miller linebacker Brian Martin, who was excited about the opportunity to take part in the camp activities with NFL players.

“I never did a camp before, so it was awesome to meet them and learn from their experiences,” Martin said. “They were very helpful and I plan to use some of the skills I learned during practice.”

Nast was happy that he was able to partner up with McGahee to bring a camp to the high school and San Bernardino County.

“Willis did a great job interacting with not only our kids, but also with the kids in the community,” Nast said. “We have a lot of great football around here and it is great to get recognized by such a high profile-star here.”

Nast also expressed how events such as this can provide positive outcomes and moments for the community.

“Our football team over the last couple of years has taken our shots and lumps, but giving our kids opportunities to be involved with players like this make it worthwhile,” he said.

An example that Nast shared was when Miller football player Marcus Cobian got the chance to meet his NFL idol, T.J. Ward.

“He got to meet T.J. Ward today, and that is one of the coolest things because his face dropped when he saw him walking onto the football field,” Nast said. “Those are moments and things you cannot get anywhere else, and that is why I love coaching and being here at Miller.”

The age of the campers ranged from ages eight to 18. The camp also saw football players travel from schools such as Moreno Valley Rancho Verde and Walnut to take part in the activities.

“It was a nice turnout — we had some high school kids and some younger kids out here,” McGahee said. “It was truly a blessing.”

At the conclusion of the football camp, McGahee preached to the campers about listening to their parents, teachers and coaches. He also told them that they should really be focused on their studies in the classroom at this age.

McGahee also told the campers that he plans to return to the University of Miami to finish his academic path in forensic science.

“I left early my junior year to pursue a dream I had of playing in the NFL,” he said.

He wanted to make kids aware that education is the key to success.


Buy Willis McGahee's 2011 Porsche Panamera For Just $89890

We’re still trying to figure out if this 2011 Porsche Panamera being sold by Willis McGahee is the same Porsche that had its windshield busted by an errant Kyle Orton pass way back in 2011. You might remember that Orton’s pass sailed out of the end zone and into the players’ parking lot, drilling McGahee’s ride.

This Panamera (featuring an ass-kicking 4.8L V8 turbocharged engine) is currently listed on eBay for the low Buy It Now of $89,890. MSRP for this car is $150,000. Now a free agent after starting six games last season for the Browns, McGahee put some serious cash into this ride.

According to the listing:


Look closely at the subwoofer box. That’s a customized “WM” box.


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Saints Looking At Willis McGahee?

The New Orleans Saints have had a fairly solid offseason despite getting rid of some players and after adding Jairus Byrd, the team could be close to getting Jimmy Graham under contract and they also could look to the freelb_icon1 agent market for names like Andre Brown, Willis McGahee and Maurice Jones-Drew to make up for the Darren Sproles trade.

The Saints surprised many by getting rid of Sproles, as he has been one of the most productive players for the team over the past few years, but they had to get rid of some money to get the cap under control for Graham. The deal for the tight end is going to cost the team and on top of that they have Drew Brees's contract to deal with as well and that made for some hard decisions and now Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram will be the feature backs. The team could sign one of the free agent backs mentioned to help add depth to the roster and those players like would not cost much, including Brown, who was injured last season for the Giants but came on strong in the end.  

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Willis McGahee says he wants to play four more years

The Cleveland Browns reached out to free agent running back Willis McGahee last year after they traded away Trent Richardson and in doing so they gave an over-the-hill player another shot at competing. The move must have lit a fire under McGahee as the running back is stating he wants to play at least four more years in the NFL.

Per ESPNCleveland:
McGahee said he wants to play four more years, but he finished the year on fumes and lost his biggest advocate in the organization, former coach Rob Chudzinski.

Seeing McGahee return last season was a surprise to many and to hear he plans four more years of football is even more surprising. He’s not the back he used to be and after suffering a knee injury in the National Championship game during his final season with the Miami Hurricanes, it can be argued McGahee never really became the back he could have been.

Still, for a guy who many thought wouldn’t play in the NFL at all, McGahee has longevity and apparently the will to keep playing. The only question is will anyone give him a contract in the offseason?

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Willis McGahee wants 4 more years

BEREA, Ohio - The odds are probably not in running back Willis McGahee's favor when it comes to his future with the Cleveland Browns.

McGahee was not on an NFL roster when he signed with the Browns prior to Week 3 of the season. McGahee, in his 11th season, was brought in since Trent Richardson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts.

So it's likely Sunday's game against the Jets, and next week's season final against the Pittsburgh Steelers is it for McGahee in a Browns uniform. It could also mean the end of his career, but not if McGahee has something to say about it.

And he does.

"I want to play four more years," said McGahee, who's averaging 2.7 yards per carry. "That would give me 15 years. This would come from a guy who was never supposed to play again. My back has always been against the wall."

In a well chronicled play, McGahee's left knee was shattered in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl National Championship Game between Miami and Ohio State. McGahee suffered tears of the ACL, PCL, and MCL. The gruesome injury required several surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. At the time, it was believed McGahee would never play again, or come close to the same player before the injury.

McGahee defied all odds. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first two NFL seasons. He's also a two-time Pro Bowler.

McGahee's history and leadership impresses running back Chris Ogbonnaya, as well as McGahee's longevity goals.

"I was still in high school when he was hurt, and I'd never seen an injury like that," Ogbonnaya said. "For him to come back and have the type of career he's had has been impressive. To play as long as he has, injury or not, is a blessing."

In a word, McGahee said four more years would mean determination.

"No one's going to tell me that I'm not going to play anymore," McGahee said. "I want to determine on my own."

And his future with the Browns?

"I'd love to be back here next year, but that's up to the coaches and the organization," McGahee said. "

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Willis McGahee expects to play this week

Cleveland Browns veteran running back Willis McGahee suffered a concussion in Week 14 against the New England Patriots, and he was ruled out for last week’s game against the Chicago Bears weak run defense after not being able to practice at all. McGahee was never expected to play, but he was fully expected to be back at it for Week 16.

According to the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram’s Scott Petrak, McGahee stated that he expects to play this week against the New York Jets and added that he feels “pretty good”. Although he hasn’t received clearance to practice after being concussed, it looks like he will most likely play this week.

McGahee unfortunately missed out on an opportunity to get something going against arguably the league’s worst run defense (Lance Briggs didn’t play), and he’ll have to go up against arguably the league’s best run defense this week against the Jets. The 32-year-old is averaging a putrid 2.7 yards per carry with just two rushing touchdowns, and his Week 13 performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars was his only legitimately good game this season. The Browns will be hoping that he can play this week and put in a positive effort against a tough Jets run defense, because that’s probably the best they are going to get out of him.

It’s great to hear that McGahee is on track to play, and hopefully he receives clearance soon and does not suffer any setbacks.

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Willis McGahee might not return to action

The running back might be done for the season after possibly losing consciousness in Sunday's game. We break down the fantasy implications.

Cleveland Browns running back Willis McGahee is no lock to return to the field this season, said head coach Rob Chudzinski. McGahee might have lost consciousness when he suffered a concussion in Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.

McGahee has rushed for 377 yards and two touchdowns on 138 carries this year, an average of only 2.7 yards per carry. He was signed to the roster just before the team's Week 3 game after the Browns traded starting running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis. McGahee's backup, Chris Ogbonnaya, has 224 rushing yards and 291 receiving yards on the year, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and also scoring two touchdowns. The team has also signed Edwin Baker, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, but has yet to appear in an NFL game. He has been with the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Houston Texans before joining Cleveland.

Fantasy impact: McGahee had played himself well out of fantasy usability with his rough performance this year. The Browns play the Chicago Bears Sunday, which in theory shaped up as a chance at a big game, with the Bears struggling mightily against opposing running backs all season.

It seems pretty likely that, even if McGahee does return at some point this season, the chances of him playing in Week 15 are vanishingly small, and he's not worth holding onto on the off chance he does return eventually.

Meanwhile, Ogbonnaya will likely be Cleveland's starter against Chicago. Ogbonnaya has been moderately productive a few weeks back, before lost fumbles in consecutive games negatively impacted his playing time. With McGahee sidelined, though, and a nice matchup, Ogbonnaya could be a low-end desperation play in Week 15, especially in PPR leagues, as Ogbonnaya has caught multiple passes nine times this season.

Baker is nothing more than an insurance play for Cleveland, and the only people who have any use for him in fantasy are his parents and best friend.

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Willis McGahee ‘very doubtful’ this week

Cleveland Browns veteran running back Willis McGahee suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots after being hit in the head by middle linebacker Brandon Spikes in the fourth quarter, and he isn’t practicing today, per head coach Rob Chudzinski. McGahee’s status for this week’s game is totally up-in-the-air as a result of the concussion, and the 32-year-old will have to pass all of the league’s concussion tests in order to take advantage of a terrible Chicago Bears run defense this week (Lance Briggs isn’t expected to be back this week either).

McGahee’s status might not just be questionable, though, and it sounds like there are major doubts about whether or not he can suit up for this week’s game. According to ESPN NFL Nation’s Pat McManamon, McGahee “seems very doubtful” to play this week, and that’s enough to make me believe that McGahee will most likely be out this week. It makes logical sense, since he is an older player and has been ineffective anyway; McGahee’s injury gives the Browns more incentive to look at Fozzy Whitaker and Chris Ogbonnaya. Plus, that’s assuming that McGahee is even remotely healthy enough to play this week, since his health is still squarely in question.

Keep an eye out for more updates regarding his status and even though McManamon isn’t referencing a source or anything, I highly doubt he’s speaking off-the-cuff either. McGahee doesn’t seem likely to play this week, and I think Ogbonnaya and Whitaker are going to be two intriguing players to watch for this week against a porous Bears run defense.

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Willis McGahee Suffers Concussion vs. Patriot

Coach Rob Chudzinski said that McGahee suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the Patriots, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Prior to his concussion, McGahee recorded 14 carries for 33 rushing yards.

McGahee's status for Week 15's game against the Bears is now cloudy, with Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker next up for carries if the veteran isn't cleared in advance of next weekend's contest.

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Willis McGahee finds his way back into the end zone for Browns

The Browns running back had his second best game of the season Sunday. We break down the fantasy implications.

Running back Willis McGahee had played nine games with the Cleveland Browns entering Sunday. He had scored four or fewer fantasy points in eight of them, with the lone bright spot being an outing with 72 yards and a touchdown in Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills. Sunday, McGahee found his way back to the right side of the ledger, with a relatively big game in the Browns' 32-28 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

McGahee rushed the ball 14 times for 57 yards Sunday, his second-highest rushing total of the season and, at 4.1 yards per carry, his highest average of the season. He also scored a touchdown, his first since that big Week 5 game. To cap it off, McGahee added a season-high 14 receiving yards on two catches in the game.

Chris Ogbonnaya, who had been seeing increased touches with McGahee's struggles, has gone the other way in recent weeks after some fumbling problems. He had only seven carries for 20 rushing yards, and only two catches for 14 receiving yards.

Fantasy impact: McGahee has been pretty decisively terrible as a Brown, with little indication there is anything resembling a top-flight NFL running back left in him. This was a nice bounce-back, but fantasy owners will need to see more, maybe much more, before he even becomes a week-to-week flex play.
On the other side of the coin, Ogbonnaya, who had started looking like a low-end flex play with PPR potential, can now safely be dropped in all leagues.

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Willis McGahee totals 71 yards in loss to Jaguars

Willis McGahee rushed for 57 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries in Week 13 against the Jaguars.
McGahee caught both of his targets in the passing game for another 14 yards. It was just the second time all season that McGahee has rushed for over 46 yards. His touchdown came from one yard out and was his second of the season. McGahee has both of the Browns' rushing scores on the year. After playing just seven snaps last week, McGahee was the lead dog in this one. He still is barely on the fantasy radar. His goal-line looks keep him alive.

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Willis McGahee not going far, vows Browns can

Willis McGahee milks mileage out of his comments, if not his carries.

The old rent-a-runner was asked Thursday if — based on his learning in 11 NFL seasons — his latest team has the chemistry to remain in the AFC North hunt.
“Not only do we have the chemistry to stay in the race,” he said. “We have the chemistry to lead the race.”

Spoken like a Hurricane.

The Browns must beat Cincinnati Sunday to improve to 5-5, but that would sink the division-leading Bengals to 6-5.

Old Willis spoke on.

“It’s us against the world,” said the last man standing in the locker room — everyone else had headed for practice. “Nobody thinks the Browns can do it.”
He says they can. So what if he is the face behind the most glaring thing the Browns “can’t do.”

Historically speaking, the Browns could practically be nicknamed “Run One.”

Super backs Marion Motley, Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly all have gotten bronze busted in Canton.

Mike Pruitt launched a car dealership off his popularity as a Browns runner. Greg Pruitt. Mack and Byner. Ben Gay in his dreams. Jamal Lewis in the only 10-win season of the expansion era.

Running backs are big in the good old days of the franchise’s fabric.

On the surface — and maybe below — these are the worst of times for the position. McGahee is averaging 2.6 yards per carry.

In the most recent game, his carries, in yards, went for 4, 3, 1, 2, 4, 2, 2, 4, 0, 2, 2, 0, 7, 0, 3, minus-3, 0, 0 and 0.

Yet, the Browns won. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner thought the running game was one of the reasons.

“I’m not caught up in numbers,” Turner said, saying the running game is serving a purpose. “When we run play-action passes, guys are open down field.”

In other words, enough defenders commit to stop McGahee — when the quarterback fakes a handoff — to skim them away from receivers even though he doesn’t actually have the ball.

“We want to be efficient enough with the run to help with play-action passes,” Turner said. “That’s a lot of what we’re trying to do.”

Turner is being an optimist. He knows full well these aren’t his Dallas days when Emmitt Smith was racking up big numbers on Super Bowl contenders.

But then, these aren’t the 1990s. In Turner’s last year as coordinator of the Cowboys, only two quarterbacks passed for more than 3,500 yards. In 2012, 17 QBs topped 3,500.

Even in the passing storm that has been Turner’s outpost in 2013 — with three different starters at quarterback — the Browns are on pace to pass for 4,158 yards.

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New-look Ravens hardly recognizable to Browns' Willis McGahee

When Cleveland Browns running back Willis McGahee faces his old team Sunday, he'll hardly recognize the Ravens' overhauled roster.

No more inside linebacker Ray Lewis, no more free safety Ed Reed and not many players remaining on the team since McGahee's final season in Baltimore in 2010.

The absence of a retired Lewis and a departed Reed, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Houston Texans in March, is particularly jarring to McGahee, a fellow University of Miami football alum.

"It’s different, because every time I used to look at them, they used to be back there controlling everything," McGahee said during a conference call Wednesday. "And now it’s a bunch of new faces. I guess it was time for them to start over and bring in new people.”

McGahee played four seasons for the Ravens before being cut in 2011 after backing up Ray Rice for the final two years.

McGahee rushed for a career-high 1,207 yards for the Ravens in 2007 and was named to the Pro Bowl after being acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Bills and signing a seven-year, $40.12 million contract.

"I had some good times in Baltimore," McGahee said. "I can’t complain about it. I was done right by the city and the organization. There’s no hatred or anything. It’s a business. It was time for me to move on and go somewhere else, and that’s what happened.”

McGahee spent the past two seasons with the Denver Broncos, rushing for 1,199 yards in 2011 in his first season there after signing a four-year, $9 million contract. He injured his knee last season and was placed on injured reserve before being released in June.

The Browns gave McGahee a call and moved quickly to sign him to a one-year, $940,000 contract in September after they traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first-round draft pick.

McGahee, 32, has rushed for a modest 231 yards and one touchdown with an average of 2.9 yards per carry in six games and four starts since joining the Browns.

“I think I’m doing pretty good. I’m doing OK," said McGahee, who was held to 28 yards on nine carries in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. "It doesn’t help when we’re down by two touchdowns in the first half, so you really can’t run the ball. But what I’ve been doing, I’ve been doing pretty decent.”

For his career, McGahee has rushed for 8,328 yards and 64 touchdowns with 205 receptions for 1,321 yards and five touchdowns.

McGahee has also provided a mentoring presence for his younger teammates.

"Willis has been big for us in a number of ways," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. "He brings, not just from a football standpoint, his [leadership] ability and his running ability and the things that he does from that standpoint. We have a young group of guys, and the leadership that he brings, the maturity and the perspective that he’s had, he’s been great in terms of that.”

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'Old-man' McGahee chasing new life with Browns

BEREA — Willis McGahee is a playful old cuss, the kind who would dive off a cliff just to prove he still has it.

It’s hard to tell, though, whether he actually believes himself when he says, as if there were ever any doubt, that he has 100-yard games left in him.

Nobody his age has 100-yard games left in him. Running backs his age are ex-running backs.

That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

Even the best backs soon turn into castoffs.

Prime examples well familiar to the men who run the Browns offense that needs a strong game out of McGahee on Sunday at Kansas City:

• Jamal Lewis gave the Browns an expansion-era best 1,304 rushing yards at age 28 in 2007. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski didn’t get nearly as much from him in 2008. Lewis couldn’t find work after he turned 30.

• LaDainian Tomlinson had eight straight 1,000-yard seasons before he turned 30 in 2009, when he gave Norv Turner’s Chargers 730 yards at a measly 3.3 per carry. Tomlinson spent the next year with the Jets, then was gone.

• Frank Gore, who is having a nice year for the 49ers at age 30, should be nervous. The average age of the other nine backs in the current top 10, based on 2013 rushing yards, is 24.8.

McGahee is part of a run of October birthdays for key Browns. That alone should be enough to make him nervous.

Brian Hoyer turned 28 the day he should have been starting against the Detroit Lions. He was awaiting knee surgery. Brandon Weeden turned 30 the next day. He was benched a week later.

McGahee turned 32 on Monday.

Being a playful cuss, he rolled with the punch when someone asked him if he is out to make a statement for old-guy ball carriers?

Does he relate to other backs who have done well this close to Medicare?

“I don’t even know,” McGahee said before Thursday’s practice. “Who was? Can you tell me? If you wouldn’t even know, how would I?”

If one searches around, one can find a handful of old running backs who have had decent to very good years. Some examples:

• Franco Harris was 33 when he gave the Steelers the last of his 1,000-yard seasons, in 1983.

• Walter Payton was 31 when he ran for 1,551 yards on a 1985 Bears team that won a Super Bowl. He turned 32 before the next season, when he ran for 1,333 yards.

• Emmitt Smith was 31 when he ran for 1,203 yards (4.1 yards a carry) in 2000. His last 1,000-yard year came the next year when he was 32 (1,021 yards, 3.9 average).

• Tiki Barber turned 31 five months before the 2006 season, when he ran for 1,662 yards (5.1 average). He retired before he turned 32.

• Fred Taylor gave the Jaguars 1,202 yards (5.1 average) in 2007. Three weeks before he turned 32, he contributed to a win over Pittsburgh in a playoff game.
Even for the most durable backs, though, the wall is never on the far horizon. Curtis Martin, for example, had a career year (1,697 yards, 12 TDs) for the 2004 Jets, at age 31. At 32, he regressed to 735 yards at 3.3 per carry.

McGahee has been a good but not great back in his career, landing in the next echelon behind the backs listed above. He has rushed for 8,300 yards.
The Browns claimed him off the scrap heap after trading Trent Richardson. His 32nd birthday celebration did not include gifts wrapped in his 2013 stats sheet, which reads: 70 carries, 203 yards, 2.9 average, one TD.

The Browns need him to be more than those numbers indicate, insofar as the weakness in Kansas City’s defense is against the run.

McGahee talks as if he can deliver.

“I’m making the right reads,” he said. “I think I’m doing pretty good. You look at the numbers, and ...”

He would love to make them look better. He says he doesn’t worry about how other running backs have fared, young or old.

“I don’t try to pattern my game after anybody,” he said. “I portray Willis McGahee.

“I would love to come out and bust that 90-yarder, but that doesn’t happen to me. I’m a big guy. I’m a guy who, as the game goes on, I get better and better.”

It remains to be seen how the insertion of Jason Campbell into the No. 1 quarterback role will change the running game.

“When we’re down 14-0 or something like that, there’s not going to be a run game,” McGahee said, alluding to the score after one quarter at Green Bay. “If we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, we’ve got a chance.”

The last time the Browns won, against Buffalo, the old man ran 26 times. He only gained 72 yards, but it was a win, and, to hear him tell it, he could see 100 from there.

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Willis McGahee pops up on injury report with knee

Browns running back Willis McGahee, who went from his couch to the top of the depth chart not long after Trent Richardson was traded to Indianapolis, has become one of the few bright spots in the post-Hoyer offense.

McGahee’s availability for Sunday at Lambeau Field against the Packers suddenly is in some doubt.

The veteran tailback, who didn’t appear on the Wednesday injury report, missed practice on Thursday with a knee injury.

McGahee has 164 yards rushing in four games with the Browns, but his per-carry average is at a mere 2.8 yards.

The good news for the Browns is that linebacker Jabaal Sheard, out since Week Three with a knee injury, fully participated in practice each of the last two days.  He has 1.5 sacks in three 2013 appearances.

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Willis McGahee wants Broncos reunion -- in the playoffs

BEREA, Ohio – Cleveland Browns tailback Willis McGahee bears no grudge against the Denver Broncos for releasing him in June, but he'd sure love to see his old team again.

In January.

McGahee, 31, is fueled by a vision he wants his young teammates to buy into: the postseason. The Browns are a surprising 3-2, tied atop the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens.

"Who says we can't go play Denver?'' McGahee told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday. "I'm not jumping the gun. But it could happen. We're here to shake things up.

"Why not the Browns? If we take care of business, the path is set. It's time for a new beginning -- a new (AFC) face out there.''

Released by the Broncos over concerns about his ability to rebound fully from a torn medial collateral ligament and a compound fracture of his right leg suffered in November, McGahee has shaken off rust as he rounds back into shape. A two-time Pro Bowl player who was on the street for three months, he has rushed for more than 1,000 yards four times.

He sees in the surprising Browns (3-2) glimmers of the 2011 Broncos, who went on a magic ride, led by quarterback Tim Tebow. After rallying to make the playoffs, Denver beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round before losing to the New England Patriots.

"When I first got to Denver, they were the same way as this team -- a young team, the offensive line was together for a few years, and it clicked,'' McGahee said. "I didn't know how good this defense was until I got here.''

McGahee insists he isn't bitter that he might have lost his best chance to win a Super Bowl ring when he was dumped by the Broncos, given the way Peyton Manning is tearing up defenses with 20 touchdown passes and only one interception.

"Denver did what they had to do, and I don't have any grudge,'' McGahee said. "I texted Peyton when he threw all those touchdowns (seven against Baltimore) and said, 'Good job! Congratulations!' I've learned through the years never to hold a grudge. This is a new chapter in my life, helping another team.''

Many believed the Browns were waving a white flag on the season when they traded running back Trent Richardson for a 2014 first-round pick. That's when the Browns signed McGahee, off the couch, to fill the void.

"People thought it was over," McGahee said. "No, we're fighting for the guys inside this locker room. Once guys got a taste of three straight victories, the sky's the limit. People thought we weren't going to do too much this year because we're young. But guys are playing with heart, character and style.

"I'll be happy with us getting to the postseason -- just to get a taste in these guys' mouths.''

Unsung quarterback Brian Hoyer was supposed to play the part of Tebow in this storybook, but the hometown hero, who led the team to two straight wins, suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament last Thursday against the Buffalo Bills.

Brandon Weeden, who had lost the starting job, replaced Hoyer and led the Browns to a 37-24 victory. But is Weeden good enough to lead the Browns to the playoffs?

"Oh, yeah," McGahee said. "He completed some balls in that game that were big. He was the starter before. I don't know what happened before I came here. But from what I've seen – he's the guy.

"Sometimes when you're on that sideline and you watch another person succeed, it humbles you and makes you want to work harder.''

McGahee has rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 49 carries for the Browns, including 72 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. If offensive coordinator Norv Turner wants to take some of the pressure off Weeden, the Browns will need McGahee to flirt with the 1,000-yard mark again.

"I'm up for the challenge – if I touch the ball enough, I will get it,'' McGahee said. "Norv told me, 'We're going to run the ball now.' That's all I needed to hear."

McGahee said hall of Fame running back Jim Brown encouraged him when the two spoke a couple of weeks ago: "He's just really happy to see Cleveland doing good things again," McGahee said.

In his nine years with Buffalo, Baltimore and Denver, McGahee rushed for 8,067 yards and 63 touchdowns. It's been an amazing career for a back who tore his left anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

"I want to play four more years,'' McGahee said. "That would be 15 years for a guy who was supposed to never play football again."

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Despite his age, McGahee a good fit

At 31, Willis McGahee doesn’t fit the Browns’ analytical ideal for player age. 

The sweet spot is somewhere between 22 and 27 for all positions so that the team is, figuratively speaking, always green and growing. And a running back on the north side of 30 is pretty much considered someone who has merely grown old.

But the Browns were willing to make an exception in this case because they see McGahee, at the very least, as a one-year solution in their backfield, which was depleted by the season-ending broken leg suffered by Dion Lewis in the summer and the trade that sent Trent Richardson to the Colts last month.
They believed McGahee still has enough life in his legs to make a solid contribution on the field, but it is what he can bring from an off-the-field perspective that is equally valuable – especially for a game like Thursday night, when the Browns will be under the national spotlight as they take on the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The guy has a swagger, built through a career that includes two Pro Bowl appearances and the sort of longevity that is extremely rare in the NFL, especially for someone who carries the football. He has a certain spark and flare and fun-loving spirit that have a way of inspiring teammates to raise their game.
First, though, McGahee understood that he needed to demonstrate that he still had some game as well.

“That’s always going to be my thinking, regardless of I’m here next year or somewhere else next year,” he said. “You’ve always got to prove to the people that you can still play this game, because for some reason, everybody thinks this is a young man’s game, which it’s not.

“Like one of my coaches always used to say, ‘You’ve got the young bull and you’ve got the old bull. The old bull knows what to do. You let the young bulls to out there and get hit first.’ But at the end of the day, you’ve always got to prove yourself, especially at the position I play, because you bring in a running back every year.”

The Browns signed McGahee only days before inserting him in the lineup for their third game of the season, at Minnesota. They won, 31-27, but McGahee provided a mere eight carries for nine yards, a 1.1-yards-per-carry average. Other than a nine-yard run, it was a forgettable performance.

But that changed in last Sunday’s 17-6 win against the Bengals. McGahee carried 15 times for 46 yards. He had a modest 3.1 yards-per-carry average, but he did plenty to help the Browns grind out time and move the chains late in the game as they sealed the outcome with a 91-yard touchdown drive.

“From what I’ve learned is, guys don’t want to hear you talk about what you’re going to do; they want to see it,” McGahee said. “I know, for a fact, after they saw me run the ball against Cincinnati, everybody was like, ‘OK, he came here to play!’ I’m getting high-fives from everybody. It was like, ‘Hey, they’re finally opening up to me.’

“That’s a big step right there in the locker room. I think they’ve got faith in me. They were a little iffy at first. Everybody would be a little iffy at first, but they’ve got a little faith.”

McGahee, who began his NFL career as first-round draft pick of the Bills in 2003, is a good mentor for a team filled with younger players. In 11 NFL seasons -- four with the Bills, four with the Baltimore Ravens, and the previous two with the Denver Broncos -- the former University of Miami star has seen and done enough to share his good and bad experiences and what he learned along the way.

But he isn’t forcing any conversations. If a teammate wants his advice, all he has to do is ask. McGahee isn’t into preaching.

“I’m really not a big talker,” he said. “I know, when I was coming up, I didn’t want to hear people trying to tell me how to do this. I was always taught to figure it out on my own. I’m guessing that’s the old school in me.

“But, now, I have no problem helping out the guys. Like, (Chris Ogbonnayaicon-article-link) will ask me, ‘What did you see that I need to do on this?’ I’ll say, ‘You’ve just got to be patient, because it’s going to open up. If you go fast, it’s just going to be like a big, old pile. Just take your time and it’s going to open up.’ He took it and he got some good runs in (against Cincinnati). So I have no problem helping if you come ask.”

McGahee also has no problem seeing a modest number of carries, even though he insists he could handle a larger load because he is fully recovered from a torn medial collateral ligament and compression fracture in his right knee that he suffered last season with Denver.

He will do whatever the Browns want him to do … as long as the results continue to be what they’ve been for the past two weeks.

“We’re winning, so it’s all good,” McGahee said. “That’s what I came here to do: win.”

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Willis McGahee: He's no Trent Richardson, and take that however you want

Mr. Bones: A half-hour after practice, Willis McGahee walked into the Browns locker room still shivering from a 15-minute session in the cold tub.

“These old bones aren’t 21 anymore,” he said, grabbing his shoulders with both hands.

Monday is normally a “spa day” in the NFL. But when you have a Thursday game, there is no time for your body to recover. Monday is jammed with game review, game plan preview and a light practice.

The turnaround from a Sunday game to a Thursday game is a challenge even for a young, healthy player. For a 31-year-old running back with three rebuilt ligaments in one knee and one healed ligament in the other, it is a brutal part of the job.

“Being a running back, you’re hit on every play,” McGahee said after Monday’s practice. “You’re gonna have more bumps and bruises than the norm. It’s a quick turnaround. The body’s used to resting after a Sunday. But we had to get out there. At the end of the day, you have to be a professional.”

McGahee didn’t play in a game for 10 months, and now has played in two in the span of 10 days since joining the Browns as Trent Richardson’s replacement.

As McGahee prepares for his third game Thursday against the Buffalo Bills – the team that drafted him in the first round in 2003 knowing he would miss that entire year because of a devastating knee injury in his last college game – it is obvious that he will be an integral player with the Browns.

“The leadership he’s bringing and the attitude he’s bringing to the offense, and to our team, I think has really helped our guys,” said coach Rob Chudzinski.
Nobody on the team knows McGahee better than Chudzinski, who was his offensive coordinator at University of Miami more than 10 years ago.

Winning them over: McGahee joined the Browns on the Friday before the Minnesota game. He was the front office’s choice to replace the traded Richardson. McGahee  suited up and ran eight times for 9 yards in that 31-27 win. It wasn’t a memorable debut, but the fact he was able to even compete and give the coaches an option helped the cause.

McGahee vowed to be better in his second game after a full week’s work -- and he was. Sunday against Cincinnati, McGahee carried 15 times for 46 yards.
In the clinching, 91-yard touchdown drive, McGahee ran the ball six times for 33 yards, including a 9-, 5- and 9-yard back-breaking sequence at the end to set up a 1-yard TD pass to Chris Ogbonnaya.

“I think it showed them that I’m here to play,” McGahee said. “I ain’t Trent Richardson. But I’m here to play. I’m gonna just be Willis McGahee.

“That drive showed that we wanted it. We wanted to go out there and put it away. Our defense was playing lights out. It was our job to get on their level.”

In the locker room after the 17-6 win over Cincinnati, a game that moved the Browns into a three-way tie for first in the AFC North, McGahee emotionally accepted high-fives from teammates. It was a “Welcome to the team” moment.

“I think Willis, even though he’s been here only a week, he understands where the holes are,” said left tackle Joe Thomas. “Sometimes you just got to put your head down and run forward for 5-6 yards. Not every run has to be a home run. I think that’s a good understanding of the blocking schemes.

“When you get somebody that can get 5, 6, 7, 8 (yards) a crack, the coordinator’s just gonna keep dialing up runs. I think the line and the running backs did a nice job of finishing the game on that last drive with a physical running game.”

Been there, done that: McGahee has 8,152 rushing yards on his record, including 1,000-plus-yard seasons with Buffalo (two), Baltimore and Denver. Upon joining the Ravens and Broncos, he assumed integral roles on teams that made the playoffs.

The Browns are one of the youngest teams in the league. Their offense needed a few experienced players to show them the way. Davone Bess is one. Brian Hoyer is another. And now McGahee can make a mark.

“This reminds me of my first year in Denver (2011),” McGahee said. “ It was really a young team. We had Champ (Bailey), an older guy. I was one of them. (Brandon) Stokley was another. But it was really a younger team. That’s what I see in this team. It’s gonna click. It’s gonna happen.”

Chudzinski said McGahee “brings some of that swagger to us.”

“When you start winning, everybody’s swagger’s gonna change a little bit,” McGahee said. “I’m just easing into it. I’m not trying to be rah, rah, rah right off the bat. You have to earn that.”

On Monday, McGahee earned a trip to the sauna after his session in the cold tub. I expect McGahee will earn more than that before this season is over.

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Willis McGahee expects a ‘dramatic improvement’ in Week Four

Although the Cleveland Browns came away with a Week Three victory over the Minnesota Vikings, things didn’t go so well for recently signed running back Willis McGahee.

McGahee, who was signed late in Week Three to replace the traded Trent Richardson struggled in his fourteen snaps, only rushing for eight yards in the process with a missed block or two.

Clearly unhappy with his performance, McGahee says there will be a ‘dramatic improvement’ when he takes the field this weekend:

Per Mary Kay Cabot:

#browns Willis mcgahee on being here for full week now: “there will be dramatic improvement. I’m going to have more than 8 yards.”

McGahee, who was let go by the Denver Broncos during the preseason will be going up against a stacked Cincinnati Bengals defense, so expectations may need to be tempered.

He should see more carries in addition to more snaps this weekend, especially now that he’s had a chance to learn the playbook, but it may not translate to much more success given the tough matchup.

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Willis McGahee passes physical, joins Cleveland Browns

Injured second-year pro Brandon Weeden no longer is the oldest starter on the Cleveland Browns' offense.

Veteran running back Willis McGahee, 31, has passed his physical and agreed to terms with the Browns, sources told NFL Media's Jeff Darlington on Thursday. The Browns later announced McGahee's signing.

Although one report suggested the Denver Broncos released McGahee in June primarily due to concerns about the torn MCL and compression fracture that ended his 2012 season, he's now passed physicals from three different teams.

The Browns didn't sign McGahee to sit on the bench. He's reportedly in "great shape," which makes him the favorite to assume lead-back duties over Bobby Rainey and Chris Ogbonnaya.

Don't expect McGahee to pick up where he left off in Denver, though. He's another year closer to the end, is coming off a major injury, will need time to get back into football shape after missing training camp and no longer has the benefit of defenses backing out of the box to respect Peyton Manning's ability.

Fantasy leaguers shouldn't feel the need to run out and scoop up McGahee after watching Trent Richardson -- a more gifted player -- fail to top 60 rushing yards in either of the Browns' first two games. This isn't an offense that will present consistent scoring opportunities.

Remember what historian Jacques Barzun said: There's no shame in staring as the lemmings rush by.

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Willis McGahee to sign with Browns, pending physical

The stunning trade of Trent Richardson has left a massive void in the Cleveland Browns' backfield. They're not wasting any time attempting to fill it.

Shortly after the Richardson deal became official, the Browns announced that free-agent running back Willis McGahee will come in for a physical Thursday.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported the team plans to sign McGahee if his medical checks out, per a source informed of the move.

It's no certainty McGahee will pass the physical. A leg injury prematurely ended his 2012 season with the Denver Broncos, and he'll be 32 in October. He worked out for the New York Giants last week, but he was passed over for Brandon Jacobs. That alone says plenty.

Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey are the only running backs on Cleveland's roster at the moment. If McGahee signs, expect him to take on a prominent role for a team very much looking ahead to 2014 and beyond.

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Giants Bring In Brandon Jacobs, Willis McGahee

New York Giants RB David Wilson found himself in a familiar place last night when he was benched after another fumble. He has had this happen to him before and Tom Coughlin was not going to let it continue on.

Today, the team is working out a few running backs in order to get some depth on the roster and in order to push Wilson. The team brought in former Giants RB Brandon Jacobs,former Denver Broncos RB Willis McGahee and former New York Jets RB Joe McKnight for a workout.

The Giants lost Andre Brown in the preseason to a broken leg, so the depth at that position already needed some bolstering. It looks like the Giants will be bringing in someone to help out.

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Willis McGahee, Kenny Phillips are longshots for NY Giants

According NYG Cap Central last night, the New York Football Giants will be limited by salary cap concerns if the team seeks to bolster its roster in the wake of injuries to safety Stevie Brown, offensive tackle David Diehl, and running back Andre Brown. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams must have their entire roster, practice squad and injured players under the cap by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4th.

OvertheCap.com explains the new rule, "By 4 PM on September 4 the cap valuations change. For salary cap purposes rosters expand to include everyone under contract. At a minimum that pushes the roster to 53 players plus a Practice Squad, which every team fields. The cost of two players adds at least $810,000 to the roster and a PS costs a team another $816,000. For teams that have players on Reserve lists such as PUP or IR the salary for the players who are replacing them will now count. For some teams that can be an additional four to five players that will now be accounted for. It quickly adds up and it all adds up by Wednesday."

Taking this rule into account, NYG Cap Central stated, "After adding in the practice squad, injured reserve, injury settlements, the entire 53 man roster and the physically unable to perform (PUP) list they'll be about $2.5 million over [the salary cap]."

Therefore, while various outlets state the G-men appear to have $3.2 to $3.3 million left under the cap, and with veterans like Kenny Phillips, Brandon Jacobs, Jonathan Dwyer and Willis McGahee as unsigned free agents, the fact is that currently New York has no money to ink any of these players, unless a current player or two restructures his contract.

NYG Cap Central highlighted the situation, if nothing changes, last night, "[The team] will need another $2.5 million in space plus $1 million in 'breathing room' by Wednesday at 4 pm. They'll probably turn to Snee again."

There are very few options for the Giants to turn to for cap relief. For example, of the ten ten paid players on Big Blue's roster, Victor Cruz, Matthias Kiwanuka and Will Beatty are already operating under new contracts. In addition, Cruz's contract is very cap friendly this season as well.

Don't expect another Eli Manning restructuring until next season, when a restructuring would most likely come with an extension.

Center David Baas has been injury prone in his tenure with New York, it remains doubtful that the Giants would extend a contract that already expires in 2016.
Corey Webster already restructured his contract, and David Diehl and Justin Tuck are in the final year of their contracts. That seemingly leaves only Antrel Rolle and Chris Snee available for restructuring.

For his part, Rolle has never had his deal restructured, and because New York has had salary cap issues over the period that he has been a Giant, it is reasonable to assume that the veteran safety has been approached by the team in the past, and declined.

NYG Cap Central believes that a Snee restructure makes the most sense, "Snee can give them give them as much $2.93 million more in cap space. His deal has two years left on it, and his base salary in 2013 is $6.7 million. Snee's $6.7 million base can be reduced to as little as $840,000. That's a $5.86 million difference. Divide that by two and you get the $2.93 million gain."

And while fans clamor for a big name or two to be brought in before playing Dallas on September 8th; less than $3 million has to last the entire season, and Big Blue also has to account for Will Hill's salary when he comes back from suspension in four weeks. So is it worth it to bring in a veteran safety for what will amount to a three-week audition?

The Giants' salary cap risk only grows if the team considers an injury-prone player like Kenny Phillips, assuming as well that Phillips would accept the veteran's minimum salary ($715,000). If he injures himself again, his salary will count against the cap in one shape or form; fully guaranteed if he's on the roster on opening day.

On the running back side, Willis McGahee, as a ten-year NFL veteran would command a $940,000 salary which would be guaranteed if on the roster on opening day as well. Signing the injury prone McGahee, before opening day especially, would pose a risk given both a guaranteed salary and injury history.

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Willis McGahee reportedly cut due to health issues

Did a 2012 injury factor into Willis McGahee's recent release by the Denver Broncos?

Upon reporting to the Broncos' mandatory minicamp last week, the veteran running back insisted he was fully recovered from a torn medical collateral ligament and compression fracture in his leg. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase corroborated McGahee's take the next day.

There's a difference between healthy enough to practice and healthy enough to remain effective against NFL defenders. Paul Klee of the Colorado Springs Gazette has it "on good authority" that McGahee's questionable health was the "No. 1 reason" for his release. Per Klee, it's also why McGahee's reps were severely limited in the two practices before he was cut.

The Gazette might not be in the habit of scooping The Denver Post, but this is a strong report. If the Broncos don't believe McGahee's knee is right, it's going to leave any potential suitors second-guessing the merits of adding a 32-year-old tailback.

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Willis McGahee, veteran RB, released by Broncos

The Broncos put their running game largely in the hands of their own draft picks Thursday morning, releasing veteran Willis McGahee.

McGahee was informed of the decision Thursday morning as the team gathered for its final day of minicamp. McGahee had missed the bulk of the Broncos' offseason workouts for what he called "family reasons," but had participated in Tuesday's and Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practices.

In a statement, Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway said, "It's never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and our community. I appreciate all of the competitiveness, toughness and leadership Willis brought to the Broncos. He was an integral part of our turnaround during the past two seasons, and I wish him the best as he continues his NFL career."

The move puts Ronnie Hillman, a third-round pick by the Broncos in the 2012 draft and rookie Montee Ball, a second-round pick this past April, at the top of the team's depth chart.

McGahee was given very little work with the offensive regulars in this week's minicamp practices and seemed resigned to Thursday's decision by the Broncos when he said, "If it happens, it happens."

"I'd like to thank Willis for everything he did, he did a great job for us," said Broncos coach John Fox following Thursday's practice. "He was one of our first signees when we came here to get this thing turned around. It's the unfortunate part of this business, but he did a great job."

McGahee, who will turn 32 this season, has two years remaining on a four-year, $9.5 million deal he signed in 2011. He was scheduled to earn a $2.5 million base salary this season and a $2 million base salary in 2014.

The Broncos will take a $1 million dead money hit against their 2013 salary cap with McGahee's release.

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

McGahee cited "family reasons" for working out in Miami in recent weeks and said he had no regrets about his decision, even if it had given Hillman and Ball a chance to snare some, or even all, of McGahee's potential playing time.

"In fairness to (McGahee) this gives him a better opportunity to hook on somewhere and gives us a better opportunity to give some of these young guys more reps," Fox said. "It's a conscious decision for us to get younger."

Fox added that McGahee's absence in recent weeks "didn't really have anything to do with it."

McGahee also said earlier this week he was convinced the Broncos would have given Hillman and Ball long looks with the offense even if he had attended all of the voluntary workouts at Dove Valley.

"I probably would have been behind the 8-ball anyway," McGahee said. "(It's) a younger group. Just being real, right? But at the end of the day I'm going to go out and be Willis McGahee, man. I can't worry about what those guys are doing. ... Those guys are talented, I like them, I like the way they run."

This year wasn't the first McGahee has done most of his offseason work in Miami in his time with the Broncos. He had hoped for a new contract following his 1,199-yard season in 2011 — he was an injury replacement in the Pro Bowl following that season — and spent much of last year's offseason program in Florida.

He attended the team's mandatory minicamp last June as well and when he reported for training camp he was still the Broncos starter.

"(Competition) is always going to rank high to me because the other guys are younger, I'm always on the bubble," McGahee said Tuesday. "So, not too much you can do, it's a business, if something happens it happens."

The Broncos, by league rules, could have fined McGahee for each missed day this week, because he was under contract.

McGahee reported to the team's mandatory minicamp that began with a meeting Monday night, then got just enough reps on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Broncos to feel comfortable enough to release him.

The former Miami Hurricane has had two remarkable comebacks in his NFL career, first from a devastating knee injury suffered in his last college game and then in 2011 with the Broncos following three seasons as a backup with the Baltimore Ravens.

McGahee was on pace for another 1,000-yard season last year when a blow to the knee delivered by San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer left the tailback with a torn ligament and compression fracture in his tibia.

Jammer is now with the Broncos as a safety. McGahee is not.

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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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Willis McGahee expects to be Broncos' Week 1 starter

In lockstep with his normal routine, Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee was on hand for mandatory minicamp Tuesday after skipping voluntary organized team activities earlier this offseason.

There is one major difference between this year and last, however. On the heels of Peyton Manning's recent disclosure that the Broncos are counting on Montee Ball "in a big way," there is naturally speculation that McGahee's starting job -- and even roster spot -- could be in jeopardy.

McGahee, for one, is unmoved by the Ball threat. Now slimmed down and fully healthy, McGahee said Tuesday that he expects to be the Week 1 starting running back, according to USA Today's Lindsay Jones.

The Denver Post has suggested that the Broncos want Ball and Ronnie Hillman to emerge as their "one-two punch" as soon as this season. Although head coach John Fox has a demonstrated history of bringing his rookie backs along slowly, Manning has said that is not the plan with Ball.

The coaching staff gave McGahee an exceptionally long leash before last year's season-ending knee injury. Considering Fox's veteran fetish, we wouldn't write off McGahee just yet. He likely will enter training camp atop the depth chart, with Ball and Hillman nipping at his heels.

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Willis McGahee's agents say their client has some personal family matters to attend

Willis McGahee's agents say their client has some personal family matters he's attending to.

McGahee comes from Baltimore and the University of Miami, where veteran stars rarely show up for voluntary OTAs. He doesn't seem to grasp that his roster spot in Denver is in jeopardy thanks to a $2.5 million salary, last year's broken leg and the emergence of Montee Ball/Ronnie Hillman. McGahee is expected to show for Broncos' June 11-13 mandatory minicamp.

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Willis McGahee: Has Serious Job Competition

McGahee continues to stay away from the Broncos' voluntary OTAs but is expected to report to the team's mandatory minicamp next week, the Denver Post reports.

McGahee has not reported to voluntary OTAs since his Ravens days, so it's not a big surprise that he's skipping this year too. The issue this time around is that he has serious competition for the starting job from Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and, to a lesser extent, Knowshon Moreno. If he wants to retain his job as the starter, he's going to have to go into mandatory minicamps in good enough shape to regain his reps with the first team offense, which Ball and Hillman have been splitting, with Moreno still battling back from his knee injury.

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Willis McGahee expected to show up next week

Denver Broncos RB Willis McGahee (knee) is expected to attend the team's mandatory minicamp next week. McGahee has been absent from organized team activities not due to his contract but because he's dealing with personal matters. McGahee has been taking part in offseason conditioning after tearing a ligament in his right knee in November of last season.

Fantasy Tip: McGahee's health will be the ultimate deciding factor in whether the Broncos elect to keep him over Knowshon Moreno this year. If McGahee proves to be fully healthy and beats out Moreno for the No. 1 running role in Denver, he should be considered at least a solid No. 3 back heading into the season.

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Willis McGahee still out of Broncos camp

Willis McGahee is a veteran player, headed into his 11th season, who simply prefers to work out in Miami in the offseason — much like he did last year during the Broncos' organized team activities (OTAs).

Personnel people around the league will consistently say players who played in collegiately at Miami (Fla.), are natives of Miami, or both, have traditionally been among the players who stay away the most from offseason workouts.

In short, the players like being in Miami in the winter/spring and prefer to work out at the University of Miami. It's a generalization, sure, but it is something personnel folks around the league have said over and over again.

And under the terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement the Broncos' offseason conditioning program, including the on-field practices in the OTAs is a voluntary affair. That was negotiated and there are plenty of rules in place about the time players can spend in the building, etc...

In some ways the coaches have only themselves to blame for all that by consistently ramping up the offseason commitments until it became one of the biggest topics of negotiation in the current labor deal.

Now, that said, most players would say even with the decrease in workouts and the amount of time on the field, the workouts are anything but voluntary. That if you really want to play, the expectation is that you have to be in the team's building in the offseason program.

But after McGahee's limited participation in the offseason program last season he still entered training camp, and then the regular season, as the Broncos starter. so, if you can play, in shape (and McGahee was) and they think you're the best option at the position, things work themselves out.

McGahee was hoping the Broncos would re-do his deal at least some after 1,199 yards rushing in 2011, but the Broncos held fast and didn't tweak his original four-year contract that still has two years remaining on it. The deal was worth $9.5 million overall, including a $2 million signing bonus.

McGahee, who will turn 32 this season, is scheduled to earn a $2.5 million base salary this season and a $2 million base salary in 2014.

McGahee also suffered a torn medial collateral ligament and compression fracture of his right knee early in the second quarter of the Broncos' 30-23 victory over the San Diego Chargers this past season. He went on injured reserve at that point, but the Broncos left open the possibility he could return to the AFC Championship Game.

And as much as McGahee lobbied the coaches and training staff — and he lobbied plenty — to play in the Divisional Round loss to the Ravens, the Broncos didn't think he was physically ready to return at that point and he was not activated.

McGahee has had spotty attendance in the Broncos conditioning workouts this year and has not attended the first set of OTA workouts over the last two weeks. The Broncos have four OTA workouts — all voluntary — this week as well, but McGahee is not expected at this point.

Ronnie Hillman has lined up with the starters in McGahee's absence.

If McGahee does not attend the Broncos mandatory minicamp June 11-13 - the only portion of the offseason work that is mandatory - he can be fined at that point. However, McGahee's agent has said McGahee is simply following his usual workout schedule and that he isn't trying to send any message about his contract, etc...

He is expected to be in the team's Dove Valley complex for mandatory minicamp — players formally report for that on June 10. If he doesn't show then, it probably becomes an issue for the team at that point.

Even with his experience McGahee will certainly be behind in terms of learning offensive coordinator Adam Gase's tweaks to the playbook and he has allowed players like Hillman and rookie Montee Ball to use the time to show what they can do as younger, and financially cheaper in terms of the salary cap, options at the position.

Quarterback Peyton Manning even hinted at such this past week when he said of working extra with Ball following a practice;

"I have taken Montee after practice each day and just kind of going through plays, going through games, getting him comfortable hearing audibles at the line of scrimmage. Because we are going to count on him in a big way this year. He's a rookie, but coach (John) Fox is not going to bring him along slowly. We are going to put him in there and make him a contributor this year."

If McGahee does come to the Broncos minicamp, as expected, later this month, it will be intriguing to see how the Broncos line him up and where he fits in the pecking order at that point. But given his age and the fact the Broncos have used third- and second-round picks on running backs in the consecutive drafts, it is a calculated risk on his part.

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Broncos open OTAs without RB Willis McGahee

Broncos rookies, veterans and hopefuls assembled for the first time this offseason on the practice field Monday in 11-on-11 drills. But in the long line of players from No. 2 (rookie quarterback Zac Dysert) to No. 99 (defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson), there was no Willis McGahee.

McGahee, who missed the final six regular-season games as well as the playoff loss to Baltimore with a knee injury, was not in attendance. He and left tackle Ryan Clady were the only offensive regulars not in the team's Dove Valley complex.

Clady, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, was designated the team's franchise player with a one-year, $9.828 million contract tender that comes with it. But Clady wants a long-term deal, has not signed the tender and has not been at the Broncos' complex during the offseason.

"This is a voluntary camp," Broncos coach John Fox said. "We're real pleased with the participation that we have."

Per the league's collective bargaining agreement, all 10 days of OTA (organized team activities) sessions, like the team's conditioning workouts in recent weeks, are voluntary for players. The only mandatory offseason work is a three-day minicamp on June 11-13, so players could be fined should they skip that one. McGahee also was not at the Broncos' complex when OTAs opened last year.

McGahee, who will turn 32 during the 2013 season, figures to be in a heated battled for playing time with more expected of Ronnie Hillman in his second season and the Broncos having used a second-round draft pick on running back Montee Ball.

Asked about McGahee's absence, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said: "I can't really speak to that, I haven't had a chance to speak to Willis. I didn't realize that he was not going to be here. ... The guys that are here are working really hard, and hopefully Willis can get here as soon as he can."

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Knowshon Moreno, Willis McGahee up for one spot

Denver Broncos RBs Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee likely will compete for one roster spot during training camp because the team probably will not keep both. Moreno could have an edge for the No. 3 running back job because he is younger, less expensive and a better receiver than McGahee.

Fantasy Tip: The Broncos would like to go with Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman as their top two running backs this season, so Moreno and McGahee likely will be competing for the No. 3 RB job. Neither running back would have much fantasy value as the third running back. Whoever wins the competition should not be drafted in fantasy leagues this season.

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John Elway: Willis McGahee is Denver Broncos' big RB

It widely has been speculated that the Denver Broncos will take a running back at some point in this week's 2013 NFL Draft. If they invest early in the position, logic dictates someone currently on the depth chart must go.

As things stand, the Broncos' backfield consists of Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno. John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations, discussed the running back position at a Monday news conference.

"With where we are right now, McGahee is that big back for us right now," Elway said, according to MaxDenver.com. "Hillman is (a) change of pace guy."

Hillman was a third-round draft pick last year, who showed some explosiveness as a rookie, so he's likely safe. McGahee is turning 32 years old and coming back from a broken leg. His $2.5 million salary is the highest among Broncos rushers, but hardly is exorbitant. Moreno has injury concerns as well, coming off his second knee surgery in as many years.

Should we read into the fact that Elway didn't mention Moreno by name Monday? Time will tell if Elway tipped his hand.

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Willis McGahee Believes He’s Still a Part of Denver’s Plans, Says He’s Got Five Years Left in Him

In 2011, Willis McGahee posted one of his most productive rushing seasons during his career while playing his first season in Denver. He finished one yard shy of 1,200 yards. Last year didn’t quite go according to plan, as his production fell off to 731 yards while being hampered by injury. Still, McGahee says he’s got five years left in the league and believes he’ll be a part of Denver’s plans in 2013 — despite rumors that they’ll target a running back in the draft.

Willis McGahee joined 102.3 ESPN in Denver with C.J. and Kreckman to discuss his recovery from injury, if he’s confident he’s going to be the top back in Denver in 2013, the offense playing at a faster tempo, how many years he’s got left in the league, Kevin Ware’s injury and the possibility that the Broncos will draft a running back.

How do you feel as you bounce back from the MCL injury?:
“I feel pretty good. I had a lot of time recuperating and getting rest and getting my knee back strong. I’m good to go. … I could go out and play (right now). I’m good; I’m ready to go.”

How confident are you that the Broncos believe in you to be their go-to running back?:
“Every day you’ve got to reinvent yourself, they say. The older you get, the more of a step you lose, so regardless of the situation, I’m going to have to reinvent myself and go out there and show the world — not just the Broncos, but the world — that I can still play this game. I think that’s the mentality I have. I don’t think nobody’s going to tell me when I’m done playing. I’ll make that decision for myself.”

But do you still feel you’re a part of this team’s plans?:
“I’m still a part of the team’s plans, but at the end of the day anything can happen. Regardless if I’m healthy or not, I can’t control that. That’s something that the team has to evaluate. I’ve been in the business a long time and I’ve seen how it goes, so it’s nothing new.”

The Broncos are talking about wanting their offense to play at a faster tempo. What’s that going to look like?:
“I think a faster tempo means just doing a lot more than what we’ve normally been doing. I think we played at a slow pace — not a slow pace, but we give teams a chance to try to figure things out. I think they want to go out there and just play fast, don’t worry about things. The more you think, the slower you play, so I think that’s one of the bigger reasons we need to play fast.”

How many more years do you think you can play?:
“I’ve got five more, and that’s it for me. Five more. … I mean, everything happens for a reason, man. It probably wasn’t meant for me to go second pick or third pick or whatnot. At the end of the day, I got hurt, and it made me want it even more. … It’s nothing new to me because every year, at the end of the day, they keep saying, ‘He’s 30 years old. He lost a step. He got hurt in the national championship. He’s not the same anymore.’ … That’s my motivation, and at the end of the day, when I hear people say, ‘He’s turning 31, turning 32.’ Who cares? As long as you can play the game, that’s what counts.”

What was your reaction when you saw Kevin Ware’s injury in Louisville’s Elite Eight game?:
“I didn’t see it. … I don’t watch college basketball, so I didn’t know anything about it until you see it on social media about the knee injury. The injury can happen to anybody on any given day no matter who you are. … It’s all about how bad you want to come back from it.”

Would it bother you if the Broncos went after a running back in the draft?:
“No, it don’t matter to me, because, like I said, it’s a business. My position, running backs only last, they say, three or four years, so of course they’re going to bring somebody in. Whether it’s the first three rounds or the last three rounds or free agency, they’re going to bring a running back in. … At the end of the day, the position I play, you’re going to always have to fight for your spot.”

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Broncos See Willis McGahee as complementary back

The Denver Broncos consider RB Willis McGahee as a complementary running back at this point and believe he will be more productive if they reduce the number of carries he receives.

Fantasy Tip: It appears like McGahee will not be the main focus in the team's running attack next season and may become part of a running back by committee. He probably will not be an every-week starter but more will be known closer to training camp.

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Willis McGahee Could Be Released By Broncos

The Denver Post expects the Broncos to draft a running back in the first three rounds.

The Post even suggests they could take one with the 28th overall pick. (It'd presumably be Alabama's Eddie Lacy.) Regardless, the writing is on the wall for Willis McGahee in Denver. Owed a $2.5 million non-guaranteed base salary, 31-year-old McGahee figures to be released before or just after April's draft.

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Broncos Face Decision With Willis McGahee

The Broncos face a decision on Willis McGahee. He finished the season on injured reserve and was tied for the league lead in lost fumbles at the position when he suffered his injury.

He also will turn 32 years old during the 2013 season. He has two years remaining on his four-year deal with the team, but the Broncos want more size at the position. McGahee and Knowshon Moreno have both missed time with injuries over the last two years.

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Willis McGahee Wouldn’t Describe The Aftermath Of This Massive Hit That Got Him Carted Off The Field As An “Injury”

Above is the infamous Ryan Clark hit on Willis McGahee, four years ago yesterday, that put McGahee on a stretcher to close out the 2009 AFC Championship game. Though the next day the Associated Press considered it newsworthy that Willis McGahee would, in fact, recover from the collision, McGahee told Esquire this week that he didn't consider it an "injury" per se:

[McGahee] now plays for the Denver Broncos and was recovering from a torn medial collateral ligament. With the playoffs approaching, and with NFL injuries becoming ever more of "an issue" - the global warming of American sports fans, something to be fretted over and put aside - I wanted to talk to someone whose career has been defined by very public injuries and whose very public injuries have defined the state of football over the last ten years. But he didn't see it that way. "Injury has not been part of my career," he said. "I've only gotten hurt twice. I got hurt once in college and once in the pros."

Right, but that second injury, against the Steelers...

"No. I mean now. The MCL."

"So you don't consider the concussion an injury?"

"That's what they consider it. But getting a concussion and hurting your knee are two different things. You get back up from a concussion."

Willis McGahee was knocked out cold against the Steelers. He went out on the board. He didn't consider himself injured, though, because like all NFL players he considers himself an expert in what qualifies as an injury and what doesn't. The loss of consciousness he suffered in Pittsburgh didn't qualify because it didn't require rehabilitation. It didn't put his career in jeopardy.

Esquire checked in with Ryan Clark as well, who said of the football grind, "People always ask me, 'Are you feeling good?' No. You never feel good. Once the season starts, you never feel good. But it becomes your way of life." Later in the piece, he defends his tackling style by saying, "Listen, I'm the first one to get to my knees and say a prayer." You can read the rest here.

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Willis McGahee (knee) was expected to play in the AFC Championship

Willis McGahee (knee) was expected to play in the AFC Championship Game if the Broncos had beaten the Ravens Saturday.

Through the first 10 games of the season, McGahee was on pace to rush 267 times for 1,169 yards and score six touchdowns. Then he sustained a compression fracture and torn MCL in his right knee against the Chargers on Nov. 18. Owed just $2.5 million in 2013, McGahee is a good bet to enter 2013 training camp as the starter. He is a superior runner to Knowshon Moreno.

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Willis McGahee returns to Denver Broncos practice

Willis McGahee returned to practice Tuesday with the Denver Broncos, just one day after acknowledging "if we played a game tomorrow, no I couldn't go" on the knee he injured two months ago.

The Denver Post reported the veteran running back wore a black jersey during the session, setting him apart from his teammates dressed in orange. Tuesday marked the first day McGahee could step on the practice field after being placed on the team's injured reserve/designated-to-return list with the torn medial collateral ligament and leg fracture he suffered in a Week 11 win over the San Diego Chargers.

McGahee -- with a history of knee injuries -- isn't eligible to play until the AFC championship, should the Broncos advance that far with a win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.

Oft-injured Knowshon Moreno has been a nice surprise for the Broncos in the backfield, and we expect him to hold down the fort even if McGahee returns. Before the injury, nobody touched McGahee's workload as he led the team with 731 yards on 167 carries and four touchdowns through 10 games.

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Willis McGahee isn't ready to play on hurt knee

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee says his rehabilitation from an injured knee is on track, but "if we played a game tomorrow, no I couldn't go."

"This isn't my first rodeo for a knee," McGahee said Monday, as the Broncos started preparing for their divisional playoff game Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. "I've been through a lot worse."

The 10th-year veteran, who became one of the NFL's most dependable runners despite tearing all the ligaments in his left knee during his last game in college, is eligible to return to practice Tuesday after tearing a ligament in his right knee on Nov. 18. He would be eligible to play in the AFC championship game if Denver advances.

McGahee said his rehabilitation is going well, but he doesn't know how the knee will respond when he returns to practice. Coach John Fox was noncommittal about the timing of McGahee's return and said he would update the team's injuries on Tuesday.

McGahee got the bulk of Denver's carries through the first 9½ games, but went down in the second quarter of a home game against the San Diego Chargers in November. Despite the injury, he led the team with 731 yards rushing in the regular season.

McGahee said he felt no sense of frustration watching another running back do his job while he's injured. This is the fifth playoff team he's been part of. None of the previous four - three in Baltimore and one with the Broncos - went to the Super Bowl.

"We're winning," he said. "Three more games to the Super Bowl, as long as we keep winning. My selfish days are over with. It's time to get a ring."

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Broncos have plan in place for Willis McGahee's return

Q: When Willis McGahee returns, what will be the roster move to activate him? Won't they need to release someone to make room? Kind of a bummer to be so close to a Super Bowl and miss out.

A: Paul, McGahee may be ready to practice on a limited basis next week when the Broncos begin their game-week preparation. However, the team's timetable is still that he would be ready to play in a limited role in the AFC championship game and beyond if the Broncos advance that far.

Broncos coach John Fox was asked recently about McGahee's progress. Fox said the AFC championship game was still the target.

He said:

"He's rehabbing and all indications are it's on schedule. He's getting better every day. He won't be ready any time real soon, but we'll evaluate that as we get going and finish up the regular season. All indications are he's making good progress."

McGahee tore the medial collateral ligament and suffered a compression fracture in his right knee during the second quarter of the Broncos' 30-23 victory over the Chargers on Nov. 18. The injury, as is sometimes the case with an MCL, didn't require surgery to repair.

So, McGahee was placed on injured reserve, but "designated for return," an option for the first time this season. Teams can now bring one player back off injured reserve during the season, but they have to declare which player it will be as soon as the player is moved to injured reserve in the first place.
It's what the Ravens did with linebacker Ray Lewis.

The dynamics of it for the Broncos are that McGahee can return to practice when the Broncos deem him ready for that, but they don't have to make a roster move at that point.

He can basically practice as the 54th player on the roster. It's that way so teams can evaluate the player's readiness to play in a game before they make any decisions.

But to play him in a game, the Broncos would have to make a roster move. So, yes, somebody is getting one of the unkindest cuts of all, to potentially be a week or two away from the Super Bowl and get released would be difficult to accept for any player.

Last February, the Patriots cut wide receiver Tiquan Underwood the day before the Super Bowl. So Underwood went to the Super Bowl city, practiced through the week and was cut less than 24 hours before the game.

He wasn't going to play a lot in the game, but that would stick with you for quite some time.

In terms of the Broncos' roster move when McGahee comes back, the expectation is that he would be a part of a rotation. He's still less than two months out from a serious injury.

He also does not play special teams. So to add him to the roster, that will influence the decision about who gets released. To add him and not release another running back, however, means the Broncos would have six players at the position, a rare number for a team that doesn't use a lot of two-back sets.

They signed Jacob Hester because of his abilities in pass protection. Hester showed in the regular-season finale he can contribute in the run game. And other than McGahee, he is the only running back the team has who checks in at more than 215 pounds.

Two of the backs — Lance Ball and fullback Chris Gronkowski — are two of the regulars on special teams. Ball has played 53 percent of the team's special teams plays this year while Gronkowski is at 56.7 percent (270 plays). Only Omar Bolden, Nate Irving and David Bruton played more on special teams this season than Gronkowski did.

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Bronco's Moreno starring, but McGahee on way back

With the way Knowshon Moreno has morphed back into a legitimate starting running back for the Denver Broncos over the last month, it has almost been forgotten that the Broncos are preparing for the return of Willis McGahee.

The Broncos placed McGahee on short-term injured reserve in late November after he suffered a torn MCL on Nov. 18. McGahee will be eligible to return to practice next week, though he cannot return to the active roster until the third week of January – just in time for the AFC Championship Game, should the Broncos make it that far.

"All indications are [McGahee's rehab] is on schedule and he's getting better every day," Broncos coach John Fox told reporters Friday. "He won't be ready here anytime real soon but we'll evaluate that as we get going and finish up the regular season."

Moreno's performance has taken some of the pressure off the Broncos and McGahee to rush his return. Moreno, a former first-round pick who was a healthy scratch for eight games this season, was elevated to starter after McGahee's injury and has rushed for 466 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos' last five games.

Moreno had a pair of 100-yard games in Weeks 13 and 14 after recording only two 100-yard games in his first three years in the NFL. He has had at least 20 carries in all five of his starts.

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VIDEO: Ray Lewis, Ed Reed & W. McGahee Pay Tribute To Sean Taylor

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Willis McGahee put on IR but could return for AFC championship

Willis McGahee was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, but it's not the end of the world for Denver Broncos fans.

It may not even be the end of the season for the Broncos' top running back.

For all those asking "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?": McGahee, who tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, was placed on the new recallable IR list. 

That means McGahee is eligible to start practicing after missing the rest of the regular season and could be able to play again if the Broncos make it to the AFC championship game.

And that still remains a distinct possibility for the Broncos, even without McGahee and his 731 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

After all, they made it to the second round of the playoffs with Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback last year -- surely they can go at least one game further with four-time MVP Peyton Manning now calling the signals.

McGahee will be replaced by Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno, who's been inactive since Week 2.

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Willis McGahee has leg fracture, torn MCL for Broncos

Willis McGahee is no stranger to coming back from serious leg injuries. He's facing yet another challenge.

Fox Sports insider and NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer reported Monday that the Denver Broncos running back will miss six to eight weeks after suffering a torn medial collateral ligament and a fracture in his leg during Sunday's 30-23 win over the San Diego Chargers.

NFL.com's Albert Breer later confirmed McGahee's injuries to his right leg.

Doctors told McGahee not to put any weight on his leg, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. McGahee will not need surgery, and he believes he can return in four to six weeks.

Broncos coach John Fox said via The Associated Press that the team doesn't plan to place McGahee on injured reserve.

McGahee was injured at the conclusion of an 8-yard run in the second quarter Sunday. He had been optimistic the injury wasn't going to cost him any time, but an MRI revealed the damage.

McGahee had been enjoying a strong season as the featured back in Denver, rushing for 731 yards on 167 carries and four touchdowns in 10 games. With McGahee sidelined, Ronnie Hillman is expected to handle the bulk of the carries for the Broncos, although Lance Ball, Knowshon Moreno and Jeremiah Johnson also could be in the mix.

McGahee was the 23rd overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 2003 NFL Draft, despite suffering one of the most gruesome knee injuries in recent memory during his final college game with the University of Miami. McGahee sat out his rookie season with Buffalo, but he has put together a sturdy NFL career with three teams over 10 seasons.

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Willis McGahee to have MRI on right knee Today

Broncos running back Willis McGahee was having a nice game, gaining 55 yards on seven carries when he went down with a right knee injury early in the second quarter.

McGahee suffered a knee injury after he gained 8 yards with 13:33 remaining in the second quarter, a run that immediately preceded Peyton Manning’s 13-ayrd touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. McGahee did not return and will have an MRI on Monday to determine the full extent of the injury.

“It swelled up on him,” said Broncos coach John Fox. “We’ll know more (Monday).”

One source said he "feels good and doesn't think it's serious."

Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball finished the game at tailback and combined for 78 yards rushing on 18 carries.

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Willis McGahee to keep his grip on football

In the spirit of John Fox's "you always strive for perfection, but you don't usually get it" philosophy, there is some red ink on the Broncos' season so far.
Right after the words "fumbles lost."

In most years, for most teams, quarterbacks lead in lost fumbles because they are the guys routinely getting hit on the blind side by some of the leagues best athletes.

But through nine games, the Broncos are 31st in the league in lost fumbles with 12 — only 1-8 Kansas City has more with 15.

There are two Broncos position players who have lost more fumbles than Peyton Manning, who has lost two on in-the-pocket hits: running back Willis McGahee has lost four fumbles and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has lost three.

McGahee's are especially troubling, given it hasn't been a problem previously in his career and he is the team's primary back, the kind of player the Broncos would like to power a big part of the offense down the stretch, to protect leads and run the clock.

But those plans come with a warning label if McGahee can't tighten his grip. He's lost four fumbles in 160 carries this season — one for every 40 carries.

That total would be slightly worse had McGahee been unable to scramble his way on a second fumble he had lost against the Panthers this past Sunday.
Last season McGahee lost three fumbles in 249 carries, one for every 83 carries. And this is now the first seasons in McGahee's career, a career that includes four years with at least 1,100 yards rushing and five years with at least 249 carries, when he has lost more than three fumbles.

It is a rare total for a back. McGahee's four mark the highest total for any running back in the league at the moment, and he's the only back with more than three.
Just three backs have lost three fumbles this year — Buffalo's Fred Jackson, the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw and the Titans' Chris Johnson. And only 10 running backs have lost two fumbles this year.

By contrast there are five teams — the Falcons, the Texans, the Saints and the Buccaneers, that have lost three fumbles overall this season. The Falcons and the Texans, both 8-1, have each lost just one fumble so far.

Coaches are always pessimists when it comes to turnovers and most running backs coaches will preach the "three points of contact" mantra, that if runner consistently, and without fail, maintains three points of contact on the ball, it is exceedingly difficult to knock it out, even from behind.

Some defensive coaches see the same trend in McGahee's fumbles, that they often come when he believes he's cleared the first wave of traffic and is trying to kick into another gear so he tends to swing his arm with the ball away from his body a bit.

That's when the ball can be knocked out, especially from behind, by a well-placed punch by the defender.

McGahee has promised to repair the issue, which would be good news for the Broncos. Because the best way to protect Manning from opposing pass rushers is for Manning to hand the ball to McGahee some and go from there.

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Willis McGahee flummoxed by fumbles

Broncos RB Willis McGahee has never had a case of fumblitis like the one that now afflicts him. His two fumbles in the Broncos' 36-14 win over Carolina pushed his season total to a career-worst five.

"It'll weigh (on my mind)," McGahee said Wednesday, "but at the end of the day, you've got to put it behind you, because you can't worry about it. I know what I was doing wrong. Me and the coaches and the scout-team defense have been working on it for the past two days, so, hey, it is what it is. I'm not perfect."
McGahee believes the problem lies with himself.

"I'll get careless here and there with it when I try to do too much," he said. "The ball will go swinging out, and that's what I've been trying to do, but I'm just going back to taking my time."

It has otherwise been a stellar season for McGahee, who is on pace to rush for more than 1,200 yards and is just 29 yards from a career high in receiving yardage.

But McGahee's bobbles have been the most extensive symptom of a team-wide affliction. The Broncos have lost 12 fumbles this year, the second-most in the league behind Kansas City. McGahee has accounted for one-third of them, but recovered one of his own fumbles in the fourth quarter at Carolina.

The Broncos were expected to spend extra time working on fumble-recovery and ball-security drills this week, hoping to correct a problem that hasn't sunk their hopes, but could morph into a fatal flaw by January.

One remedy apparently not in play is to carry a green-beanie-covered football around team headquarters, to practice and meetings. That solution was foisted upon WR Demaryius Thomas after he lost fumbles in three consecutive games (Weeks 3-5) earlier this season. McGahee said Wednesday he wasn't even aware of the green football.

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Willis McGahee already sets career high for fumbles

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Immediately after Willis McGahee's second fumble late in Sunday's win at Carolina, the Broncos took him out for rookie Ronnie Hillman.

This doesn't mean McGahee is about to lose his job; they were up 29-14 at the time with less than five minutes remaining, so they were entering salt-the-game mode.

Nevertheless, the Broncos are concerned about McGahee's fumbling proclivity this season. His five fumbles and four lost are already career highs, and the Broncos' 12 lost fumbles overall—including two Sunday—are the second most in the league.

When wide receiver Demaryius Thomas lost fumbles in three consecutive games, Denver's coaches forced him to carry a special green football around team headquarters and to meetings and practices; he hasn't fumbled since.

A similar creative protocol likely awaits McGahee, who is still by far their best runner. Hillman has struggled between the tackles and there appears to be little trust in Knowshon Moreno, who's been inactive for seven consecutive games after fumbling in Week 2 at Atlanta.

Giveaways remain the potential fatal flaw in the Broncos' Super Bowl aspirations, as they have 11 in the last five games, including an average of 2.0 per game during a four-game winning streak against the Chargers, Saints, Bengals and Panthers.

They might have been able to get away with fumbles against the lesser teams, but they couldn't against the Falcons, Texans and Patriots in the first five weeks. Unless the Broncos find a remedy between now and January, their lofty hopes could crash shy of New Orleans with an ill-timed turnover or two.

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Willis McGahee's fumbles may draw extra Broncos coaching attention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Willis McGahee may have just qualified for a week with a green-covered football.

"They can if they want to," McGahee said.

The Broncos' top tailback, McGahee fumbled two more times Sunday, losing one. He has fumbled five times this year, losing four.

"They were two strips from behind," McGahee said about his fumbles in the Broncos' 36-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers. "Those are tough. I shouldn't be doing it. You can't blame anybody but yourself."

When Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas had a bout with fumbles earlier this season, he was sentenced to a week with a football that was covered by two, green scouting beanies and etched with the initials, "MM." The initials represented Morgan and Madison, the two daughters of Broncos receivers coach Tyke Tolbert.

The ploy worked as Thomas hasn't fumbled since. McGahee has been around long enough to where he may not need such a tactic. He's had 1,950 carries and only 24 lost fumbles — one for every 81.3 carries — in his career.

But just in case, McGahee's running backs coach, Eric Studesville, has a daughter named Sydni. After McGahee's second fumble, which he recovered, rookie Ronnie Hillman finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. It was Hillman's first career touchdown.

"Hopefully not the last," Hillman said.

McGahee rushed for 56 yards on 14 carries, enough to cross the 8,000 rushing yard mark in his career. Not a bad milestone for a tailback who tore up his knee in his final college game and has been a full-time starter for only six seasons.

"Overcoming adversity," McGahee said about reaching the milestone at the advanced running back age of 31. "Chicken and broccoli and leaving beef alone. Love pork but I leave beef alone."

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Willis McGahee Presents Play 60 Grant

BRIGHTON, Colo. – Students at Bromley East Charter School will soon see a marked increase in the school’s emphasis on exercise, thanks to NFL Play 60.
Running back Willis McGahee visited the school Tuesday morning to present a $10,000 grant for health and wellness that is meant to encourage kids to exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. The grant will help Bromley East upgrade its equipment and increase its commitment to physical activity in a big way.

“This is absolutely the most amazing thing I’ve ever came across in my 13 years as being as a teacher,” athletic director Eric Heinz said. “There’s been nothing this amazing at school. Being able to actually do it on my own accord, I applied for the grant for our kids, not for me. It’s for them.”

Lori Sheldon, the school’s executive director, said receiving the grant marked a historic day for the school. Getting to see a role model like McGahee made the moment even more special for the kids.

“To have Mr. McGahee here as a celebrity, if you will, to address our students is very exciting for them,” Sheldon said. “It’s once in a lifetime for some of these students and we’re thrilled to have him on our campus.” 

At an assembly attended by all of the school’s 925 students, McGahee entered a gym full of Broncos orange and blue to raucous applause from the Kindergarten-through-eighth grade student body.

“It’s crazy,” McGahee said of the students’ reaction. “When I walked in, it was just ridiculous. I did it last year and it was me and Von Miller and Von did all the talking so I was really just laid back. So now it was my turn to do all the talking, I got a little nervous, but I pulled it together.”

McGahee said the program’s goal is one he fully supports and emphasized the fact that it’s never too early to begin establishing an active lifestyle.

“You want to be one of those active kids that’s out here running around,” McGahee said. “I was always active when I was little, so it paid off in the long run. I’m pretty sure some of these kids have dreams of playing in the NFL or the NBA or Wimbledon or something like that. It starts now, it doesn’t start later on in life. It starts now at an early age and this is the time you need to capture it.”

Tuesday also gave McGahee an opportunity to involve himself in the local community, something he both values and enjoys.

“It’s always good to give back to the community just to let everybody know we’re regular people,” McGahee said. “We’re not on this high pedestal where we don’t come back and interact. It shows the community that we’re involved and we’re here – we’re not going anywhere.”

After the assembly, McGahee joined 50 of the kids outside for a variety of physical activities including a relay race, jump rope, push-ups, sit-ups and curls with light dumbbells. To determine who got to join McGahee on the recess field, each of the students submitted an essay with the principals grading them and selecting the top 50.

“Because we have 925 in our student body, of course everybody wanted to participate,” Sheldon said. “So we had to think of an idea. What we did is we had everyone write an essay about why they should be chosen to work out with Mr. McGahee today. So they submitted those and the principals sat down and we graded and graded and graded. What I’m so thrilled about is it’s a wide selection of our whole school, Kindergarten through eighth grade. And it takes into consideration all types of students, whether they have special needs or they’re gifted, it was a whole broad spectrum.”

McGahee made it clear that he had no intentions of taking it easy on the kids chosen for the workout.

“I want to see who has the best agility out here,” McGahee smiled. “I put them to work. I really tested them.” 

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Willis McGahee celebrates 31st birthday in style

Broncos running back Willis McGahee is used to spending his birthday on the football field, or at least practicing on it.

But with the Broncos on their bye week, the Pro Bowl back can enjoy his 31st birthday on Sunday doing whatever he wants. And Willis did it up.

McGahee turned 31 on Sunday, and he celebrated his birthday at least in part by answering tweets from many well-wishers. But, he also definitely got his party on, having gone out with former University of Miami teammate and current Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and former Bronco and current Detroit Lions cornerback Drayton Florence to Lux Lounge in Washington D.C. on Friday night.

Oh yeah, hot new recording artist Elle Varner also showed up too. You go, Willis.

Time to party like ish yo’ birfday.

McGahee also went back to his hometown of Miami for a little bit before as well. The Broncos don’t have to be back at Dove Valley until Monday. So until then, McGahee can nurse his….birthday cake hangover.

Happy birthday, Willis.

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Willis McGahee says struggling running game 'a long ways away'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Willis McGahee isn't frustrated by the performance of the Broncos’ running game. But there's no masking the lack of production from that part of the offense, which has been held below 75 yards and to 3.5 yards or less per carry in three of the past four games.

The balky running game is partly culpable for the Broncos' notoriously slow starts, especially the past two weeks. McGahee averaged 3.8 yards per carry in the first half at New England in Week 5, then was held to 0.7 yards per carry in the first half at San Diego.

The Broncos tried to get the ground game going early at San Diego, playing their first possession in a three-tight end formation that shoved blocking specialist Virgil Green into the starting lineup for the first time this season. But Denver's blockers have struggled to get any kind of push in recent weeks, and the Broncos have quickly abandoned the run.

Denver's best hope at building a balanced offense might be to use the pass to set up the run. McGahee finally got going in the fourth quarter Monday, averaging 6.3 yards per carry as the Chargers began dropping back in zones to neutralize Peyton Manning, who was shredding San Diego during the Broncos’ comeback win.

"We're close, but we're still a long ways away," McGahee said. "There are certain things we can do better and get better at as far as the run game. But at the end of the day, last year I didn't start out like 100-yard game, 100-yard game. It was nickel-and-diming it."

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Broncos Won't move away from Willis McGahee

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning said the team will continue to rely heavily on RB Willis McGahee and WR Demaryius Thomas after both players had costly fumbles and dropped passes in the team's Week 5 loss. "I stick with them. I told Willis after the fumble and the other fourth down when we had it, and I told Demaryius—I'm with them. We're going to need those guys all season," Manning said. "You don't see me not throwing to Demaryius or not calling Willis' number. They're out there; they're going to get the ball, and they're going to make more plays than they're going to miss, I assure you of that."

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Broncos' McGahee: 'Put it on my shoulders'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There were several momentum-shifting moments that went New England’s way in Sunday’s 31-21 victory over the Broncos, running back Willis McGahee taking responsibility for two of the biggest ones.

With the Broncos driving early in the fourth quarter at the Patriots’ 47 yard line and trailing, 31-14, McGahee let a Peyton Manning pass on fourth and 1 slip through his fingers. Instead of a sure first down to keep the drive alive, the Patriots instead took over on downs.

“No excuses, man, I dropped it,” McGahee said after the game. “Point blank.”

Manning later got the Broncos back in the game by leading a touchdown drive that made it 31-21, and Denver was deep in New England territory looking for another score when McGahee made the blunder that ultimately sealed the victory for the Patriots. With 3:42 left on the clock, Patriots linebacker forced a McGahee fumble at the New England 14-yard line, the ball recovered by Jermaine Cunningham at the 11.

“I had two key plays, the dropped pass on fourth down and one and the fumble on the goal line,” McGahee said. "That probably changed the game for us when I fumbled that ball.”

The Broncos' running back, who finished with 51 yards rushing on 14 carries and 51 yards receiving on 5 catches, credited Ninkovich for forcing the ball out.

“He just made a good play,” McGahee said. “I had it high and tight, but still, you’ve got to do better than that. I think that changed the game for us and I take full credit for that, not getting down there. ... Put it on my shoulders.”

McGahee might be willing to take the heat, but he certainly wasn’t the only culprit for the Broncos, who turned the ball over three times.

On the opening drive of the game, Manning connected on a 43-yard strike to Demaryius Thomas that would have set the Broncos up deep in Patriots territory. But Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore poked the ball out and recovered it.

“The turnover set us back that first drive and we were just in the hole from there,” McGahee said.

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Willis McGahee goes over 100 yards from scrimmage

Willis McGahee rushed 14 times for 51 yards in Denver's 31-21 Week 5 loss to the Patriots, adding five catches for an additional 51 yards.
A solid day on paper, but McGahee cost the Broncos any shot they had at a comeback in the fourth quarter, committing a back-breaking drop on an early 4th-and-1 before losing a soft fumble at the Patriots' 14-yard line with 3:42 to go. The mistakes marred McGahee surpassing 100 yards from scrimmage for the third time in five games. The good news is, McGahee is still running extremely well, and is far and away the Broncos' top back. The Broncos get the Chargers in Week 6.

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Willis McGahee nominated for weekly honors

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and running back Willis McGahee are candidates for the best passing performance and rushing performance, respectively, of week 4.

Manning, who threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns without an interception against the Raiders is nominated for the FedEx Air award. McGahee, who rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, is a candidate to win the FedEx Ground award.

Fans can vote for Manning and McGahee through Friday afternoon.

Manning’s competition is Tom Brady and Matt Ryan; McGahee is up against Brandon Bolden and Chris Johnson.

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It's 'all systems go' for Willis McGahee

Willis McGahee's return to practice for the Broncoson Wednesday was uneventful, which is exactly how he wanted it after a painful Sunday in which he suffered a rib cartilage injury.

"All systems go on my end," said McGahee, who worked on a limited basis during Wednesday's practice.

McGahee, whose 50 carries this season are twice as many as the rest of his teammates combined, said he isn't sure when he suffered the injury Sunday, but he only carried the ball once after halftime before returning to the bench.

"I got hit one time, and it felt like my whole world ended," McGahee said. "I'd rather try to be healthy for this game coming up."

McGahee said he might wear extra protection around his ribs but that his decision would be based on how he felt after practice the next two days.

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Willis McGahee list as “day to day”

DOVE VALLEY — When John Fox comes to his Monday press briefing and announces he has no update to the injury report, that means none of the players injured in the previous day’s game suffered season-ending injuries.

Fox said today that running back Willis McGahee (ribs), tight end Jacob Tamme (groin), linebacker/special teamer Nate Irving (concussion), wide receiver/special teamer Matt Willis (hamstring) and cornerback Tracy Porter (knee bruise) are all considered “day to day.”

Fox added a little clarity to McGahee’s injury, saying it involved cartilage. Fox said Porter “re-tweaked” a bruised knee on a hard fall while covering Kevin Walter on Walter’s 52-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

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Willis McGahee leaves game with rib injury

Willis McGahee was forced from Denver's Week 3 tilt with the Texans with a rib injury, and is questionable to return.

McGahee went out midway through the third quarter, and returned for one play before checking out again. It's quite possible his afternoon is through. With Knowshon Moreno a healthy inactive, rookie Ronnie Hillman will carry the rushing load if McGahee is indeed done for the day. McGahee had just 36 yards on 12 carries before departing, adding one catch for six yards.

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Willis McGahee Continues To Prove He Still Has Heart, Skill

Player: Willis McGahee, #23
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 235 pounds
Age: 30
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
College: University of Miami
Experience: 9 years

Willis McGahee has lived a long, storied football life.

The 30-year old running back had a dream come true when he was able to play college football in his hometown of Miami, Fla. for the University of Miami (aka “The U&rdquoWinking, and he played very well.  In 2001, McGahee won a national championship with the Hurricanes.

In 2002 as a junior, he blew away Miami single-season records with 282 carries for 1,753 yards and 28 touchdowns. His 28 scores that year stand as the fifth-most in Division I history and he came in fourth in Heisman Trophy voting that season. In that year’s championship game, McGahee had his leg hit and he tore the ACL, MCL and PCL in his left knee, but he decided to declare for the NFL Draft that year anyway and was selected in No. 23 overall by the Buffalo Bills.
After taking a year off to rehab his ailing knee, he played 46 games for Buffalo from 2004-2006. In those three years, McGahee averaged 1,122 yards and eight touchdowns per season on the ground.

He was traded to the Baltimore Ravens and continued to enjoy success as one of the most difficult running backs to tackle due to his size, strength and determination to power through the line. His best year in Baltimore was his first, 2007, when he rushed for 1,207 yards and seven scores. The three subsequent seasons, he dropped off in production each year, all the way down to 380 yards and five scores in 2010.

It left many wondering if the game had passed the then-28-year-old by.  He was released by the Ravens in 2011 and his future as an NFL player was in question.

That’s when his career was reborn as a member of the Denver Broncos.

Knowshon Moreno was the Broncos’ starting running back in Week One of the 2011 season, but an early injury opened the door for McGahee, who took a stranglehold on the starting spot, never letting go since.

2011 was a special season for McGahee. The big, bruising back was used heavily, as a way to complement and take the pressure off youngster Tim Tebow, running the option with the run-first quarterback for much of the year. He ended the season with 1,199 yards and four touchdowns as an integral member of the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL that season. He eventually made the Pro Bowl as a replacement for Arian Foster, the first such honor of his career.
And this season has started as strongly as last year ended.

In Week One, he ran strong and steadily, 16 times for 64 yards. On Monday, he was spectacular, rushing 22 times for 113 yards—the 31st time in his career he went over 100 yards—and a 5.1 yard per carry average, including two crucial touchdowns. The Broncos didn’t win the game, but he kept Denver in the contest with those scores and he was a presence on the ground all night. He busted runs between the tackles, gaining the hard yards, pushing the pile and leading his team downfield.

Without a doubt, he’ll be incredibly important to the Broncos offense all year long once again, especially with Moreno struggling to back him up.

Broncomaniacs are in for a treat with McGahee carrying the rock.

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Willis McGahee rushes for 113 yards to provide spark

ATLANTA — When everything else seemed amiss with the Broncos' offense, at least it had Willis McGahee.

The veteran running back proved to be the calming presence — and also a spark — the Broncos needed as he churned out 113 yards on 22 carries, along with two fourth-quarter touchdown runs.

If there was a perception that this offense would be all Peyton Manning all the time, McGahee showed Monday against the Falcons he's willing to handle plenty of the burden.

McGahee apologized to teammates last week for an early fumble against Pittsburgh, a turnover that helped the Steelers keep pace with the Broncos early in the opener.

Here in the Georgia Dome, McGahee was the steady, sure-handed one.

And to think, his night started on his backside.

As part of the Broncos' disastrous opening possession, McGahee bounced off a defender and went backward for a 2-yard loss.

The good sign for McGahee, who will turn 31 next month, is he appeared to get stronger and faster as the game wore on.

He had rushes of 15 and 31 yards late in the first quarter, and eclipsed his week 1 total (of 64 yards) by rushing for 77 yards (on 11 carries) by halftime.
"It just showed we could move the ball on those guys, we just had to settle down," McGahee said.

It was no coincidence that McGahee was a factor on each of the Broncos' touchdown drives, especially in the second half.

On Denver's first fourth-quarter touchdown, McGahee had four carries for 23 yards, including a 2-yard score, his first of the season. Those carries put McGahee over the 100-yard mark for the 31st time in his career.

"It's not bad for someone who's supposed to be 30," McGahee said. "It's not bad for someone who's supposed to be done."
On the drive that brought the Broncos to within six points, at 27-21 late in the fourth, Manning trusted McGahee to take the ball, right up the middle, on fourth down.

McGahee saluted the Atlanta crowd in the far end zone after that score.

"It's great to be able to have someone like that to hand the ball of to when things aren't going as well as you'd like early on," Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. "You get the chains moving, you get into a flow. Willis was able to do that for us.

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Denver will continue to limit Willis McGahee's carries

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Willis McGahee still is the Broncos' clearcut No. 1 running back. But if it wasn't clear that his game days of 20-to-25 carries were over before the season, it is now.

In the season opener, the Broncos rotated Knowshon Moreno liberally in relief of McGahee and will continue to do so going forward. Moreno even saw work in the red zone, scoring the Broncos' touchdown and shooting a hole in the notion that McGahee would be the Broncos' sole red-zone and goal-line threat throughout the season.

It isn't an indictment of McGahee's skills; rather, it is a concession to his age. McGahee turns 31 this season and was the only 30-something player in the league with more than 12 carries through one week of the season.

Last year, McGahee had six games with at least 20 carries—including three in the first half of the season, which caused him to miss time in the season's second half with hamstring and knee injuries.

Don't be surprised if he rarely, if ever, has 20 carries this year, because he's still the Broncos' steadiest, most consistent running back and the only one who's proved capable of regularly averaging at least 4.0 yards per carry.

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Willis McGahee rumbles for 64 yards Sunday

Willis McGahee rushed 16 times for 64 yards in Sunday's win over the Steelers, while also losing a fumble and notching zero catches.

McGahee put it on the ground on only his third carry of the night, but the Broncos didn't shy away from their 31-year-old lead back afterward. Knowshon Moreno had five carries mixed in throughout the game, gaining just 13 yards, while third-stringer Lance Ball took the rock twice for 14 yards. McGahee ceded a good deal of passing-down snaps to Moreno, but that could change after Moreno got beaten on a number of blitzes. McGahee's a borderline RB2 in what will be a pass-happy offense.

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Willis McGahee has been exception to the rules

For an NFL running back, age is not just a number. It's often the bottom line. For Willis McGahee, however, it's just noise, like some dog barking through the screen door.

"I've heard all kinds of things for my whole career," McGahee said. "People think I'm too old. Some people say I'm too slow.

"I like for people to say I can't do something. I always have. I use it."

But what if history says the odds are against you?

McGahee is a 30-year-old running back who will turn 31 in mid-October. The NFL routinely spits out 30-something running backs like unwanted sunflower seeds. Spits out those who are Canton-bound, backups and most everybody else in between.

Most don't make it that far. Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell and Marshall Faulk played a combined seven seasons at age 30 or older, but did not finish with 1,000 yards rushing in any of those seven years. The recently retired LaDainian Tomlinson had no 1,000-yard seasons after his 30th birthday, though he played in 43 more games.

Then there's McGahee, already an exception to the rule. He says he's ready and willing to take the ball as many times as the Broncos will hand it to him.

"I expect to get some touches," McGahee said, looking forward to a season that begins Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I'm pretty sure it's going to be quite a few, I don't know if it's going to be 30, or 35 (a game), or anything like that, but I'll get my hands on the ball."

"Willis is Willis," said Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. "We're going to give him as many touches as he can handle."

McGahee tore three ligaments in his left knee in his final college game at Miami, the kind of injury that puts a question mark next to any NFL hopeful. He didn't play as a rookie in 2003, then went on to rush for 1,128 yards in his second year. He was an exception.

When the Broncos signed him as a 29-year-old veteran, set to enter his ninth season, some saw him as a complement at that stage of his career, a rotation player. Instead, he led the team in carries, rushing yards, made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement and uncorked the run he was perhaps most proud about. It was a 60-yard touchdown sprint against the Raiders when he outran Oakland's speedy secondary.

By season's end he was a 30-year-old running back with 1,199 yards rushing on 4.8 yards per carry — his third-highest season total with his second-best yards per carry.

"McGahee is a stud of a runner," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "He's very talented. He's a very physical player, a combative player, one that we respect."

Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton each had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons after they turned 30. Curtis Martin had two, including an NFL rushing crown at age 31. It's hard to stay in the NFL for a decade at any position, but those who have done it at running back are on the shortest of lists.

Still, as the Broncos formally unveil their offense with Peyton Manning behind center Sunday night, there might be no player more important for Manning's health and well-being in the pocket than McGahee. Manning himself has stressed the importance of the Broncos having options in the offense that don't include Manning throwing the ball.

There is precedent for Manning being cocooned in a top running game. The Indianapolis Colts were second in the league in rushing in 2005, fourth in 2004. In Manning's formative years — 1999 and 2000 — the Colts' Edgerrin James was the league's rushing champion in back-to-back seasons.

"Everyone thinks with him we're throwing it all the time, but any quarterback wants to have a running game," McCoy said. "It makes his job that much easier."
"That's going to play a huge role for us this year," Manning said. "How can you not like what Willis does?"

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Willis McGahee's workload likely to be lessened

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—The days of Willis McGahee carrying the football 20 times on a week-in, week-out basis probably are done. After averaging 19.8 carries during a six-game stretch last year, the 30-year-old runner began showing wear and found himself limited to 14 carries a game for the following seven weeks.
But he could be used more selectively and more effectively, and his most significant impact in 2012 could be as a short-yardage and goal-to-go threat.

McGahee scored only four touchdowns last year, mainly because then-quarterback Tim Tebow would usually get the call—or make the call himself after the football was snapped. This year, the Broncos' goal-line offense will look more traditional, with fullback Chris Gronkowski expected to play a key role. On McGahee's only preseason touchdown, Gronkowski blasted open the decisive hole.

Denver's reserve runners are unlikely to supplant McGahee in short yardage; Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman operate best in space, and Lance Ball is a jack-of-all-trades reserve who doesn't possess McGahee's decisive burst.

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