Broncos Must Make Do Without McGahee

Willis McGahee

McGAHEE: ... was on pace for over 1,100 yards.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Denver will have to do without Willis McGahee for a little while, but not for long.

During John Fox’s press conference Monday afternoon, ProFootballTalk.com reported that McGahee would undergo surgery and miss one to two weeks, citing a league source.

That would sideline him for next Sunday’s game against the Lions and possibly a Week 9 trip to Oakland, when the Broncos begin a stretch of three division games in four weeks.

Fox said that McGahee fractured the fourth metacarpal bone. The injury took place with 10:52 remaining in the third quarter.

McGahee was replaced by Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball.

Moreno had seven carries for 28 yards and two receptions for 10 yards. The nine touches were his most since Week 1; the rushing-yardage tally was his highest this season. Moreno opened the season as the starter but dropped back to the second string after McGahee averaged 76.5 yards per game during Moreno’s two-week absence.

McGahee has averaged 76.2 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry during his five starts this season. Had he remained healthy for the rest of the season, he was on pace for 1,146 yards.

The Broncos’ running game wasn’t the same after McGahee succumbed. Prior to his injury, he and Moreno collectively averaged 4.75 yards per carry (95 yards on 20 rushes). After that, Moreno and Ball combined to to average 2.1 yards per carry (23 yards on 11 rushes). Quarterback Tim Tebow’s rushing average also dropped slightly, from 8.8 to 7.0.

Thanks mainly to McGahee and an improving run-blocking scheme, the Broncos have improved from a No. 26 ranking in rushing offense last year to 16th this season. The Broncos have also improved from 3.9 yards per carry last season to 4.4 this year; that represents an improvement from 23rd to 11th in the league rankings.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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