McGahee's knee gets up to speed

Posted: Monday, August 16, 2004

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. This is what everyone was waiting for from Willis McGahee.

After 19 months of recuperation and countless questions about the strength of his left knee, the Buffalo Bills running back finally provided some answers. McGahee had the go-ahead score on a 1-yard run in his NFL preseason debut, helping the Bills to a 16-6 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

McGahee finished with 13 carries for 58 yards and two catches for 25 yards, continuing to show that he's ready to play after missing all of his rookie season recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.

The Broncos (0-2), coming off last week's 20-17 loss to Washington, continued to struggle on offense. Starter Jake Plummer went 3-of-11 for 40 yards passing and two interceptions, giving him three in two preseason games.

Most eyes were on McGahee.

The crowd cheered when he first took the field, lining up alongside starter Travis Henry late in the first quarter. Fans were already on their feet, cheering in anticipation just before McGahee scored. He followed two blockers off left tackle and put the Bills ahead 10-3 with 4:37 left in the second quarter.

''It felt great to just get into the end zone. That was a goal of mine,'' McGahee said. ''It was really good to hear all of those cheers. It means a lot.''

McGahee had a big role in the 13-play, 59-yard scoring drive, getting seven carries for 15 yards and a 9-yard reception.

This is what everyone hoped to expect from McGahee. He's the former Miami star the Bills selected 23rd overall in the 2003 draft, knowing that he would need at least a year to recover after he was hurt in his final college game, the national championship against Ohio State.

After scoring, McGahee went down on one knee to say a small prayer and then jumped up to be congratulated by his teammates. McGahee gained confidence as the game progressed.

On the Bills first drive of the third quarter, McGahee reeled off a strong 16-yard scamper to the left, and followed it up with a few nifty cutbacks, breaking three tackles, for a 6-yard gain.

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