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McGahee ready to make his comeback complete

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  • McGahee ready to make his comeback complete

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Ever since he was hurt, hardly a day has gone by without someone asking Willis McGahee about his left knee.

    The questions have kept coming no matter how many times McGahee has said he'll be fine and playing better than before.

    "How many times? I don't even keep track of that, anymore," the Buffalo Bills' running back said. "It's nothing new to me."

    Soon, McGahee hopes to put all the questions to rest by showing what he can do on the field. His long wait is nearly over, some 18 months after his college career at Miami ended abruptly when he blew out his knee in the Fiesta Bowl.

    He's passed the physicals, done every drill and made it through a month of minicamp practices this spring without a hitch.

    "I'm anxious for the first game," McGahee said. "I've got the jitters. I want to play."

    All that's left is for him to brace for that first hit, the one that only comes in competition against a fully-padded opponent. It's the kind of jolt that will test his knee's strength -- as much as it will his mind's resolve -- to determine whether he's ready to play football again.

    The Bills are off until they report for training camp in suburban Rochester on July 31; their preseason opener is Aug. 15 against Denver.

    As a sophomore in 2002, he was the nation's best running back and considered a top-three pick in the 2003 draft after he set Miami records by scoring 28 touchdowns and rushing for 1,753 yards. The national championship game, in which Miami lost to Ohio State, was supposed to be McGahee's send-off.

    It instead turned out to become his biggest test. In the second half, and with Miami beginning to rally, McGahee went down following a crushing hit.

    Two days later, he had surgery to repair three ligaments, including one that required major reconstruction. A day after that, his rehabilitation began with a few excruciating leg lifts that made him cry out in pain.

    By March, McGahee was jogging and in April, the Bills drafted him 23rd overall.

    He was the first running back selected but it didn't matter to him whether he was taken in the first or seventh round. All McGahee wanted was a chance. Now he's got a five-year deal that could potentially be worth $15.53 million if he meets all the incentives.

    "I'm better than I was last year, no complaints," McGahee said. "No lagging or nothing, full go."

    The Bills and rookie coach Mike Mularkey are hoping he can give them a one-two rushing punch with returning starter Travis Henry. It's an opportunity to revive what was an underused running attack last year, and take pressure off quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who struggled in a predictable passing game.

    Mularkey made his intentions evident on the first snap of his first minicamp practice in March when he lined up Henry and McGahee in the same backfield.

    "You get two quality backs like that, you've got to get them in the game somehow," Mularkey said.

    And the coach doesn't appear worried about McGahee's knee, saying, "I purposely don't ask him how he's feeling." Nor is Mularkey concerned about whether he might create a running back controversy.

    Henry, coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, initially called it a slap in the face when the Bills drafted McGahee but has since reversed field, saying the two can get along.

    McGahee said he and Henry are comfortable with each other.

    "It wasn't his fault they drafted me," McGahee said. "Who knows? I'll probably make him better."

    Bills president Tom Donahoe has no second thoughts about drafting McGahee, saying he was too good to pass up. Like McGahee and the rest of the team, Donahoe's itching to see how he responds to full contact.

    "He's running around like he's not concerned about the knee, but you still have to get knocked around," Donahoe said. "And until that happens, that's probably the last hurdle that he has to get over."

    McGahee said he's got nothing to prove to anybody but himself. He's the one who made the decision to turn pro. He's the one who pushed himself to extremes to get to this point.

    And yet, McGahee acknowledges he's not certain what to expect. So he's established modest goals to begin with.

    "I will accomplish a lot by getting one touchdown. That's good enough for me," he said. "Then I'll know what to expect."

    It's been a long time since he's reached the end zone.

    "Yeah," McGahee said. "I've got to get back home."
    Curly ~ Horns

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  • DJRamFan
    Bills' McGahee wants trade if he's not starting
    by DJRamFan
    Aug. 20, 2004 wire reports

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Running back Willis McGahee has asked the Buffalo Bills to trade him if he is not their starter on opening day, a source told The Associated Press on Friday.

    McGahee's request was not issued as an ultimatum, but the player made clear he won't be happy playing backup to incumbent Travis Henry, said the source, who is close to McGahee, and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said, "There is no truth to that whatsoever."

    McGahee was not available for comment, as the Bills were off Friday in preparation for Saturday's preseason game against Tennessee. McGahee's agent Drew Rosenhaus declined comment.

    After hosting Tennessee, the Bills close their preseason with two road games in preparation for their season-opener against Jacksonville on Sept. 12.

    Questions about how the two running backs can work together have been raised since the Bills selected McGahee 23rd overall in the 2003 draft.

    Henry is now coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season while McGahee missed his entire rookie season recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

    The former Miami star was considered a top-three pick before he was hurt in his final college game, the Hurricanes' loss to Ohio State in the national championship, the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

    Rookie coach Mike Mularkey has said that both players can work together this season, but has maintained that Henry is his starter.

    That's been evident through camp, where Henry has worked exclusively with the starting unit, while McGahee has worked mostly with the second string.

    McGahee has looked good so far.

    In his preseason debut, he had 13 carries for 58 yards, a 9-yard reception, and scored the go-ahead touchdown from the 1, in Buffalo's 16-6 win over Denver last Sunday. McGahee also shone, scoring four touchdowns from within 2 yards, during a controlled scrimmage against Cleveland earlier this month.

    While Henry and McGahee refer to themselves friends, theirs has been an uneasy relationship.

    Henry initially called the Bills decision to draft McGahee as a slap in the face.

    He's since backed off that claim, saying the two can work together.

    Henry, however, has previously said that he's not prepared to be a backup to McGahee. Henry has also said that he expects one of them to be traded after the end of this season.

    Henry is signed through the 2005 season. McGahee has four years left on a contract that could potentially be worth $15.53 million if he meets all the incentives.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -08-20-2004, 12:13 PM
  • RamWraith
    Losman done already
    by RamWraith
    Losman breaks leg, out indefinitely wire reports

    PITTSFORD, N.Y. (Aug. 24, 2004) -- Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback J.P. Losman broke his left leg during practice and will be out indefinitely.

    Losman's agent, Gary Wichard, told The Associated Press that Losman is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks. Wichard said he was informed by Bills doctors that Losman's injury is similar to one sustained last season by Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick.

    Vick was hurt Aug. 16 and didn't return until 3 months later.

    Wichard added that the Bills will determine whether Losman will require surgery. He doubted the team would place the quarterback on injured reserve, a move which would end Losman's season.

    Losman, the second of Buffalo's two first-round picks, was hurt two hours into practice when he was finishing a run up the right side during a two-minute drill. As he was pulling up, cornerback Troy Vincent laid a shoulder into Losman's upper body, knocking him over.

    Losman got up and immediately started limping, before falling back to the ground. Trainers attended to him for about five minutes on the field, and Vincent came over and shook his hand.

    Calling the collision an accident, coach Mike Mularkey said: "Troy's not going to try to hurt anybody and J.P., he loosened up right there at the end -- you can't do that."

    Vincent said the two collided when Losman attempted to cut back into the middle.

    "I didn't hit him to tackle him, he was cutting back and I just happened to catch the blade of his shoulder pad," Vincent said. "I didn't know he had fallen. I just continued to run, and when I looked back, he was on the ground."

    Selected 22nd overall out of Tulane, Losman is being groomed as Drew Bledsoe's eventual successor.

    In Buffalo's two preseason games, he went a combined 9 of 11 for 78 yards, and is second on the team in rushing with 80 yards on seven carries. Losman has also engineered three scoring drives -- all ending in field goals -- in the five series he's been in.

    Bills starting left tackle Jonas Jennings also left practice after twisting his right ankle. Jennings was still limping slightly, but able to take part in a scheduled fire prevention promotion after practice.

    Receiver Eric Moulds watched most of practice from the sideline, nursing a sore chest, which he hurt in the Bills' 16-15 preseason loss to Tennessee. Moulds said he expects to be back at practice this week.

    Starting running back Travis Henry (bruised ribs) missed his second straight practice and said he doesn't expect to play in a preseason game at Indianapolis. Punter Brian Moorman returned to practice for the first time since hurting his left leg.

    Backup offensive lineman Marcus Price practiced on a limited...
    -08-25-2004, 12:08 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bills] The Bills' future is now and starts with Losman
    by DJRamFan
    Sal Maiorana
    Democrat and Chronicle columnist

    (November 16, 2004) FOXBORO, Mass. I know I've seen enough. I'm pretty sure every clear-thinking Bills fan has seen enough. I wish Mike Mularkey would admit that he has seen enough.

    The Drew Bledsoe Era in Buffalo should be over. After about two years' worth of mostly sub-standard and sometimes hard to watch performances, it needs to be over.

    Unfortunately, the coach said Monday that it's not over. At least not yet.

    Mularkey said Bledsoe will be the starter Sunday when the Bills host St. Louis, his reason being that he's not ready to give up on the season with seven games remaining.

    With a 3-6 record it's going to be over very soon whether he sticks with Bledsoe or turns to J.P. Losman. So if Losman was healthy enough to make that cameo appearance in New England, it makes all the sense in the world to start him for the rest of the year and begin his developmental process now.

    Tom Coughlin's Giants are 5-4 and very much alive in the NFC playoff picture. But Coughlin has grown tired of the bumbling Kurt Warner so he announced Monday he's turning the reins over to rookie Eli Manning. I don't hear too many Giants fans grumbling.

    Sunday night at Gillette Stadium Bledsoe dipped to an almost unfathomable level of incompetence and an ESPN national television audience had the misfortune of sharing in the misery of Joe Average Bills fan.

    It should have been the proverbial last straw. Rarely has Bledsoe ever looked worse and his cartoonish 14.3 passer rating, the lowest of his career, only tells part of the story.

    The computer-nerd quarterback rating formula hinges largely on touchdown passes and interceptions and at times does not fairly portray how a quarterback played in a game.

    Make no mistake: This time it painted a picture Picasso would have been proud of, accurately capturing the essence of Bledsoe's ineptitude.

    He had no touchdowns and three interceptions while completing just 8 of 19 passes for 76 yards. Just as troublesome as the balls he threw to the Patriots were some of the balls he threw to his teammates: Too high, too low, too far in front, too far behind.

    "There were some errant throws," Mularkey offered, almost in a whisper, during his post-game news conference.

    Added wide receiver Eric Moulds: "I think he was pressing a lot. Anytime you have a ball skip or things like that happen, a quarterback is pressing trying to make a play. He's had some bad games here, so it could be one of those things where he wants to beat this team really bad and go out there and play well, and he's rushing his throws and not relaxing."

    Bledsoe looked lost. He looked completely...
    -11-16-2004, 07:53 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Bills] Bledsoe is still starter . . . for now
    by DJRamFan
    Mularkey won't give up on veteran despite loss to Pats


    Buffalo Bills coach Mike Mularkey still hasn't given up on his team's chances of making the playoffs this season, which explains why he isn't quite ready to begin the J.P. Losman Era any time soon. Drew Bledsoe will be the starting quarterback Sunday afternoon against the St. Louis Rams.
    After that, we'll see.

    Mularkey's reasoning Monday after the Bills' embarrassing 29-6 defeat to the New England was built more on mathematics than reality. The Bills are 3-6 with seven games remaining, including a five-game stretch that includes four road games. Ten teams in the AFC have a better record than Buffalo, and only Miami's is worse.

    Technically, the Bills can make the playoffs. Realistically, their chances are slim at best.

    "It's still too early to rule out where we're going from this point in the season," Mularkey said after meeting with his players. "There are seven games left. We're not out of it. Drew has proven in three (wins) of four (games) before this game that he was a big reason why. We'll start with Drew this week."

    Problems that had plagued Bledsoe for two-plus seasons resumed Sunday against the Patriots in what could have been the worst game of his career. He completed just eight of 17 passes for 76 yards, had three interceptions and failed to lead the Bills' offense into the red zone, let alone the end zone. His 14.3 passer rating was the lowest for any game in his 12-year career.

    "I think he just threw some poor balls," Mularkey said. "We had some guys open, and then we didn't and forced some things in there. Against that team, you can't afford to do that."

    Losman came off the bench cold as the third quarterback and wasn't much better in two series against the Pats. The Bills' first-round pick in April was sacked and fumbled the ball away on his first NFL drive and threw an easy interception on his second. He didn't exactly inspire thoughts he was the next Ben Roethlisberger, the rookie quarterback who has led the Pittsburgh Steelers to seven straight wins.

    But could Losman be a better option than Bledsoe?

    Mularkey said he merely wanted to take a peek at Losman knowing Sunday's game was basically decided, not kick-start a quarterback controversy. Mularkey wouldn't even say whether Losman, who is still not fully recovered from a broken leg, would be promoted to backup and therefore get more snaps in practice.

    "It was really just a matter of giving him some time," Mularkey said. "It was purely exposure. I don't think we put him in there to win the game. It would have been a tough comeback based on the number of scores we needed. It wasn't to start a controversial thing. It was to get a...
    -11-16-2004, 07:57 AM
  • Goldenfleece
    Meetings Notebook: Bills looking to deal Losman
    by Goldenfleece
    Meetings notebook: Bills looking to deal Losman

    By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
    March 29, 2006

    ORLANDO, Fla. Teams in search of a quarterback on the trade market could be in line for yet another young talent in the coming weeks: J.P. Losman.

    Two league sources indicated Tuesday that Losman hasn't gained the confidence of the Buffalo Bills' new regime. Both sources expect the team to put the former first-round pick on the trade block before the start of the 2006 season if he isn't already there.

    Bills general manager Marv Levy declared the quarterback position an open race last week after signing Craig Nall to a three-year contract, and it was widely believed the former Green Bay Packers reserve QB would compete with Losman for starting duties. But one personnel man familiar with the situation said he expects Levy to put out trade feelers for Losman in the coming weeks.

    "I think it's going to be something that boils down to Nall as the No. 1 and (Kelly) Holcomb as the backup," he said. "If you went through the locker room and people were honest, (there would be) a lot of people who aren't sold on Losman as a leader."

    When asked if Losman could still win the support of Levy and teammates in the coming weeks, the source painted the situation as "doubtful."

    "The biggest advocates of (Losman as a starter) are gone, but he's still a guy who has trade value," he said. "If Nall ends up being the starter and Holcomb is a solid backup you can rely on, why would you have Losman sitting at the bottom (of the depth chart) when you can still get something out there for him?"

    The advocates that were mentioned are ex-general manager Tom Donahoe and ex-head coach Mike Mularkey. Interestingly, Mularkey is now the offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins a team that is actively seeking a backup quarterback and exploring a possible trade for the Detroit Lions' Joey Harrington. However, the Dolphins also are looking for a veteran backup who has a generous amount of starting experience, and Losman doesn't seem to fit the profile.

    If there is any inclination to move Losman, the Bills haven't shown it publicly outside of bringing Nall in to vie for starting honors. New head coach Dick Jauron has been supportive and complimentary of Losman so far, and said Tuesday he's hoping Nall's acquisition will spur some healthy competition.

    "(Losman has) had two years now to develop," Jauron said. "He had to play a lot last year. It was thrown on him early. It was a difficult situation to be in for a young guy. So he's got a real chance (to improve in his third year). He's got all that physical talent. He can run. He's got a strong arm. He's a smart guy. He's not afraid to work. He's got...
    -03-29-2006, 10:48 AM