DENVER (CBS4) – Willis McGahee thinks the Broncos will still be strong on the ground next season, despite what’s expected to be a much improved passing game with Peyton Manning running the offense.
CBS4’s Vic Lombardi joked with McGahee about the topic Monday during his guest appearance on Xfinity Monday Live. He asked how things went that morning when Manning joined his new teammates at Broncos headquarters for the first time.
“Is it true that you walked up to Peyton Manning and said ‘I don’t care who you are, where you’ve been or what you do, I get 30 carries a game, I’m Willis McGahee?” Lombardi said.
McGahee laughed and said he “wouldn’t entertain that,” but in all seriousness he wants the Broncos’ rushing attack to remain a force to be feared.
“At the end of the day, we still want to be the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL,” he said.
The Broncos were indeed No. 1 in that category last season, and it wasn’t even close. Their 2,632 yards on the ground exceeded the Texans — the NFL’s No. 2 squad — by a whopping 184 yards.
And speaking of those Texans, a fan in the crowd at the Tavern Downtown on Monday posed a question to McGahee about them, asking if they might be the favorites to win the AFC this year.
“No. We’re the favorites in the AFC this year,” said McGahee with no hesitation.
McGahee’s excellence last season — his year included 1,199 rushing yards — earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. While on vacation Lombardi checked out some of the Pro Bowl practices and found a lot of joking around among the players and hamming it up for the fans.
Lombardi wondered if the offseason workouts that have just begun in Englewood have a similar vibe.
“We don’t mess around, it’s all work,” McGahee said. “I don’t want people to get that illusion that we’re just out there playing around. That’s what you do at the Pro Bowl; we have a good time there. That’s Hawaii. But when we’re in our home city, who we’re playing for, it’s all about work.”
That work will include plenty of drills with Manning, a quarterback known for his exhausting work ethic.
“I think he made a good decision as far as coming to play for the Broncos,” McGahee said of Manning. “This is a great organization and a great city to play for. The people are going to back him up 100 percent.”
Another fan asked McGahee about the Mile High Salute, which McGahee did several times this season after scoring a touchdown. The popular gesture was a signature move for Ring of Famer Terrell Davis during his career with the Broncos.
“I talked to Terrell and Terrell said it was okay. You know, you’ve got to get permission from the older guys nowadays,” McGahee said. “He said it was all good, so it worked out.”
With Manning at the controls in the fall, fellow Running back Knowshon Moreno, who specializes in catching the ball out of the backfield, could see more action. McGahee said he’s plenty comfortable catching short passes as well, but he hopes Moreno’s knee injury last season doesn’t have an impact on his production.
“Knowshon is a big part of our offense. He’s one of those guys that can get out there and miss in open space and we’re counting on him to be back,” he said.
There are fewer and fewer mentions of McGahee’s former teammate Tim Tebow in Broncos Country now that the trade that sent him to the Jets is in the rear view mirror, but McGahee was quick to praise him for his leadership last season.
“He had a lot of courage. He played with heart and he had a lot of emotion in his game, so that’s what I like about him.”
– By Jesse Sarles for CBSDenver.com
Watch more of the video with Willis McGahee in the Xfinity Monday Live section.