Matured and Resiliant, Willis McGahee Embracing Role on Young Denver Broncos Squad

August 30, 2011 – 8:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

Willis McGahee rushed for over 2,800 yards and 31 touchdowns on 671 carries during his four-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens. Solid numbers, but figures that declined substantially after McGahee’s 100 carry, 380 yards and 5 TD campaign in 2010. Yes the 5 scores represent a healthy total for a complimentary back, but by just about every metric out there, McGahee’s ’10 season was the worst of his four in Baltimore — both in terms of how frequently he was utilized, and how effective he was when his number was called. He needed to find a new home and seems to have done just that in Denver. With Ray Rice set to assume an ever greater role in the Ravens offense in future years, McGahee decided for understandable reasons that it was the right time to find a new home

Playing for first-year head coach John Fox in Denver, who’s notoriously committed to establishing the run, McGahee has been only marginally effective this preseason, amassing just 49 yards so far on 17 carries.  Similar to how he was utilized in Baltimore however, McGahee has shined in his short-yardage and goal-line duties, scoring a pair of touchdowns already. There’s no doubt that Knowshown Moreno will get the lion’s share of the carries, but Fox loves to run the football, so McGahee is wisely preparing this offseason as if he’ll be the starting running back for the Broncos in 2011.

Willis McGahee joined 104.3 The Fan in Denver with The Drive to discuss what goes through his mind when he trots on to the field in short-yardage situations, how he clearly understands and embraces his roles on Denver’s offense in 2011, whether he really believes that he’s in an open competition for Knowshown Moreno for significant snaps in Denver’s regular offense, how this Broncos team compares to any number of successful squads he played on while in Baltimore,  and how successfully bouncing back and rehabbing from a gruesome hip injury late in his college career has driven him to prove his doubters wrong and carve out a career for himself in the NFL.

What are you thinking when you get in the game in short-yardage situations?:

“I’m thinking get it by any means necessary. They brought me here for a reason and my job is to get the first down and make plays. That’s my goal.”

OK, what was that reason? What is your role?:

“My role is to come in and make plays regardless of the situation or who’s going to start. If I’m going to start, I’m going to start. If I’m not, I’m still going to go in there and approach it the same way.”

Have they told you it’s an open competition?:

“Nowadays, it’s a two-back team now. There’s no way one person carries the load. So I really think everybody’s going to get their share.”

Where is this Denver Broncos team compared to your time with the Ravens?:

“I really think we’re on schedule. We don’t have the team that Baltimore had because Baltimore had a lot of vets on the team which were some key leaders as far as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. But we do have the Brian Dawkins and those guys are going to make sure that we’re going down the right path. The good thing about our team is we’re young and we’re going to be together a long time.”

Why are you so special around the goal line?:

“I’m not special without the guys in front, blocking for me. But I’ve got this itch to get in that end zone because that’s where I feel like I belong.”

Take us through the mentality and attitude you’ve had to come back from the gruesome injury in college:

“I look at it as, when I got hurt, it is what it is. It’s something that you can’t control. You can’t do anything about it, just move on and keep fighting. Through that whole process, you had the writers and the fans saying, ‘He’ll never play football. He’ll never do this, never do that.’ That’s what I feed off of, people telling me I can’t do something. They told me I wouldn’t be a starter in the NFL. I did that. They told me I wouldn’t be in the NFL long, I’m going on my ninth year. … They told me that I wouldn’t be Willis McGahee. Who is somebody to tell me I’m not going to be Willis McGahee?”

What’s the difference between NFL franchises that win and those that lose?:

“In an organization that’s winning … there’s just a feeling in the locker room. The locker room is feeling like everyone has one common goal and that’s to win. … When I was in Buffalo, it was like everybody wasn’t on the same page. They didn’t have that one common goal. … It was just a handful of guys, it wasn’t everybody.”

Listen to Willis McGahee on 104.3 The Fan in Denver here

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  1. 8 Responses to “Matured and Resiliant, Willis McGahee Embracing Role on Young Denver Broncos Squad”

  2. Love ya Willis ! Good Luck in Denver.
    I’ve always been a hugh fan of yours, from the ‘Canes to the Ravens. I see you becoming the featured back in the “Mile High”.

    By ravencanes on Sep 5, 2011

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