ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Three days after slowly walking off the field late in the 35-32 win over the Minnesota Vikings, running back Willis McGahee was held out of practice with a knee injury.
“I wouldn’t say it was the knee, but I got a tweak,” McGahee said. “I got folded up in the pile. I really wasn’t expecting that, so that’s what it was. There wasn’t a need to go back out there, because we were (setting up Matt Prater between the hashmarks for a field-goal attempt).”
However, the nine-year veteran expects that he will play against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
“Yeah. Why not?” he said. “I’ll be there.”
McGahee missed last Wednesday’s practice with an illness before returning to the field for the following two days, so it wouldn’t be unusual for him to play after missing some practice time.
SAME TIME AS BEFORE: After plenty of deliberation between the league office, broadcast networks CBS and NBC and the New England Patriots, the NFL announced that the Broncos’ Week 15 game against New England would not be flexed into the Sunday Night Football slot and would remain at 2:15 p.m. MST, as has been scheduled for over seven months.
Typically, flexed games are announced 12 or 13 days before the game takes place, with the exception of Week 17, when the changes can be announced as little as five days prior to the game. In Week 17, NBC usually claims a game with clear playoff implications, if one exists.
The Broncos-Patriots game became the center of controversy for myriad reasons. The Patriots’ concern was about taking a cross-country flight back from Denver in the early-morning hours of Monday, Dec. 19, with a short week to follow with their Week 16 game (and those of all but six teams in the league) taking place on Saturday, Dec. 24.
CBS balked at losing a game that could be a ratings blockbuster, even though they had already opted to protect another game when asked for their list of protected contests at midseason. The network, which carries all non-prime time AFC games and inter-conference games in which an NFC team hosts, had already lost the Broncos-Vikings game to Fox, which, in an unprecedented move, switched networks without being moved to prime time.
NBC wanted to jettison the previously scheduled Ravens-Chargers game for Patriots-Broncos. But with the Ravens battling for home-field advantage and the Chargers still in the playoff race after a win at Jacksonville last Monday night, their game still possesses some cachet.
The reaction in the locker room was one of indifference.
“I like it at two o’clock. I don’t want a six o’clock game,” McGahee said. “I’m pretty sure the rest of the players wouldn’t mind, but, nah, it really doesn’t bother us. Whatever time they say play, we’re going to go and play. It doesn’t make a difference.”
NOTES: McGahee was joined on the sideline by safety David Bruton (Achilles tendon), left tackle Ryan Clady (knee) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (concussion). Royal suffered his injury on a fourth-quarter collision with wide receiver Matt Willis at Minnesota on Sunday. Clady has been dealing with a knee problem in recent weeks and has been listed on the injury report, but this was the first time he missed a practice because of the problem.