McGahee makes progress

Rookie running back Willis McGahee looked like he was having trouble catching the football from the Jugs machine early in mini-camp. There was a reason. He recently jammed his thumb. Here he talks about his progress as a Buffalo Bill and the impact running backs coach Les Steckel has made on him so far.



Q: Gregg Williams is fond about players taking mental reps when they're not actively on the field during practice. How have the mental reps gone for you?

Willis McGahee: You can learn by watching, but it's much easier just participating, going through the (actual) motion and everything.

Q: There's certainly an adjustment to a pro offense. How are you adjusting, at least mentally, to the Bills' offense?

McGahee: It's easier, it's somewhat similar to like what we ran in college [at Miami]. But it's a little different. But that's how I'll learn it a lot quicker. I'm prepared from some of the things I did in college.

Q: Apparently, the coaches are impressed with your classroom work. You're mentally sharp, according to Les Steckel.

McGahee: Yeah, he's asking me like some of the other players are asking me [about the offense]. They're giving me the pop quizzes while I'm walking around. Or while we're in team meetings. Or when we're doing things on the field. They come up with questions and I give them the answers.

Q: How has the competition been among running backs at the Jugs machine?

McGahee: I was winning until I had a little freak accident. But it's all right. I'll be back soon.

Q: What did you do?

McGahee: I jammed a thumb up, that's about it. But other than that, I'll be OK.

Q: How's the progress with your knee?

McGahee: I'm seeing progress. You know we're just taking our time with it, not trying to do certain things. I feel like I can do little things more, but I still got to listen (to the doctors). They're telling me that I got to take it easy.

Q: Is there any pain left?

McGahee: No, it's more strengthening right now. I don't feel any pain. The pain is over with. That was like the first couple of weeks.

Q: I spoke with Miami running backs coach Don Soldinger. He said that you should be fine at the pro level because he and Coach Les Steckel have similar coaching styles. In what ways is Coach Soldinger similar to Coach Steckel?

McGahee: (Soldinger) is one of those coaches who was very strict on detail. He wanted me to do the little things right. He was constantly on my case, making sure I was doing the little things right. And I thank him for that. It carried over to the NFL because the things we were doing in college, we were doing here, the exact same things. The coaches [here] are just saying it another way …

I say the only thing about Coach Steck is that he doesn't fuss as much as Coach Soldinger. Coach Steck, he'll talk to you to get it through. You got like two or three chances to mess up. Coach Soldinger never raised his voice. But other than that, they're the same exact people.

Just like football-wise. He's making sure you take the right steps. Everything he's teaching right now, I learned it in college with Coach Soldinger. They're the exact same (people). [Coach Steckel] is just refreshing my memory. That's about it.

Q: Do you talk to Drew a lot?

McGahee: I talk to (agent Drew Rosenhaus) every day. Every day. You got to keep the relationship with him. And he's got to keep the relationship with me. So I'm on the phone with him every day.

Q: No, I was talking about Drew Bledsoe.

McGahee: Oh [laughs]. I talk to him too. We're not on the phone every day [laughs]. Well I speak to him in the locker room and when we're on the field. But when we're on the field, it's about business and I try to let him work and not try to bother him.

Q: Sounds like you're building that relationship that is so important between a quarterback and running back.

McGahee: Oh yeah, you got to get a relationship with all of them – O-line, running backs, receivers – so you just get that confidence going so they can trust you. That's what you got to do. You got to build a relationship with all of them.


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