Punch Drunk Wonderland

Will Willis McGahee be a factor for the Broncos in Playoffs?

Denver Broncos, Willis McGahee, PlayoffsAfter suffering a knee injury in November Willis McGahee had been placed on the IR/Designated to return list. Now, leading up to the Broncos’ Divisional Round playoff game versus the Baltimore Ravens, McGahee is activated and back in practice on a limited basis. He is technically not eligible to return until the AFC Championship Game (if the Broncos can get passed Baltimore this week). Where is he healthwise? And, will he be a factor in this playoff run for Denver?

The addition of Peyton Manning served as a great benefit to McGahee for the first part of 2012. The new signal caller’s ability to read defenses and check into the right play often meant McGahee was being put in excellent run scenarios. Through 10 games in 2012 he had rushed 167 times for 731 yards and had 4 rushing touchdowns (averaging 4.37 yards per carry). He also was involved in the passing game as he had 26 catches for 221 yards in that same 10 game span. He was averaging a solid 95.2 total yards per game until his luck ran out.¬†Unfortunately, the aging back fell to a torn MCL in Week 11. He underwent surgery and the Broncos placed him on the Injured Reserve/Designated to return list.

The designation means that the running back could return to practice after 6 weeks and he could potentially be cleared to play if Denver were to make it to the AFC Championship Game. The questions hanging out there are,

1.) Will he be healthy enough to play?

2.) With Moreno playing so well, will he be needed?

The Denver backfield seemed to be in unclear hands immediately following McGahee’s injury, but soon Knowshon Moreno emerged and has been playing excellently in the last half of the 2012 season. He managed to top 100 rushing yards in 4 of the last 6 games he played, and appeared to gel well in the offense. So much so that other backs such as Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman saw a greatly reduced amount of use. Moreno has been getting the lion’s share of the carries and has been producing. What does this mean for McGahee?

The short of it is that the Broncos are in a good position. If McGahee isn’t going to be up to speed for play in the AFC Championship Game, then they know they have a capable back in Moreno. They could very well rest him even if he is healthy, or they could get him involved in a minor role. We’ll keep an eye on his status going forward into the playoffs and updates will keep coming.

As far as the long term, McGahee isn’t going to be much of a cap hit in 2013 (just $2.5 million) so he will likely be back as the starter. Moreno’s success could likely mean that we will see more of a committee in Denver for 2013.

K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...