McGahee trying to make his mark in Cleveland
CLEVELAND – Willis McGahee isn’t trying to make fans forget about Trent Richardson.
McGahee, the newest Browns running back, just doesn’t want fans to forget the Browns are able to run the football.
You wouldn’t have known that was the case after last Sunday’s 31-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Browns had 134 rushing yards, 34 of which came on a fake punt by Josh Aubrey and 22 on a reverse by receiver Josh Gordon.
McGahee, who was signed the day after Richardson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts, had 9 yards on eight carries. He guarantees better numbers Sunday when the Browns host the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It’s going to be a dramatic improvement,” McGahee said. “We’re going to have more than 9 yards. Don’t worry about that.”
McGahee had a good excuse for not providing more push to the ground game. He hadn’t played since suffering a season-ending knee injury Nov. 18 of 2012. Plenty of rust needed removed before he could feel anything close to normal.
“That’s exactly what I expected,” McGahee said. “I’ve been home and I haven’t been in football for like six or seven months. I got a good 9-yard run in, so I was happy with that.”
The offense needs to find some help from the run game to avoid being considered one dimensional. Last week Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer attempted 54 passes compared to just 17 rushing attempts.
“No question, we want to run the ball,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “If you don’t have balance, it’s going to get you.”
The best thing the offense has going for it is that this is McGahee’s second week of practices. In addition, he took his first hit against the Vikings and dealt with day-after soreness.
“It’s like when you first start working out and lifting weights and you’re sore the next day, that’s the feeling I had,” McGahee said. “Your body has memorization; it’s just that I haven’t been in it (football) for awhile. At the end of the day, it’s coming back. I’m getting a little soreness here and there, but that’s a good thing.”
McGahee is less than two years removed from rushing for 1,199 yards for the Denver Broncos – the third 1,000-yard season of his career – and he says the knee he injured last season is fine. Given that running backs are supposedly able to assimilate into an offense quicker than players at other positions, there shouldn’t be much holding McGahee back from better performances.
“I don’t care where you’re coming from, you have to get familiar with the O-line,” McGahee said. “I’ve never been around these guys. Everybody blocks differently. I require you just get on your guy. It would be great if you had a crushing block, but I’m good as long as you get on him. You have to get used to how they do things around here. The O-line coach (George Warhop) said, ‘we have to get used to you.’ “
McGahee is used to challenges, dating back to the devastating knee injury he suffered playing for Miami (Fla.) in the 2002 national championship game against Ohio State. He’s now working on his fourth NFL team – stops at Buffalo, Baltimore and Denver preceded his arrival here.
McGahee is determined to make the most of chance number four.
“My thing is I have to go out there and produce and it will speak for itself,” McGahee said. “I can easily say, ‘Yeah, I want to do this and do that.’ No one is going to believe it until they see it.”