Ravens' McGahee to undergo knee surgery

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens star running back Willis McGahee is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee as soon as today in South Florida. McGahee's knee has been bothering him since shortly after reporting to training camp and he hasn't been practicing lately. This is regarded as a clean-up medical procedure.

Since it generally takes two weeks to a month to recover from a knee scope, McGahee could possibly return for the Sept. 7 season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The surgery will be performed at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, Fla., near the University of Miami campus. It's the same hospital that surgically repaired his left knee after a devastating injury in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl where he tore nearly every ligament.

McGahee was held out of the Ravens' victory over the New England Patriots last week.

Heading into that preseason opener, Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed hope that McGahee would be able to return soon.

"We decided to take about a week and work the knee, strengthen it, get the swelling down and get him back after the game," Harbaugh said.

Although rookie runner Ray Rice has been impressive and started in McGahee's place against the Patriots, the Ravens don't currently plan=2 0to increase his role beyond a complementary presence whenever McGahee returns.

The Ravens are expected to begin trying out free agent running backs, too.

"Willis is our back, no question," Harbaugh said. "You need at least two good backs to get through an NFL season."

Rice gained a dozen yards on six carries with four receptions for 17 yards against New England. "I'm looking forward to his return to see how good a duo we could be," Rice said of McGahee.

The surgery marks another setback for McGahee, a Pro Bowl alternate last season who rushed for 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns during his first season in Baltimore.

He didn't spend much time at the Ravens' training complex this offseason and reported to camp at 236 pounds, four over his listed playing weight. He attended just one mandatory minicamp and another voluntary minicamp, skipping the rest of the workouts while a new offense was installed by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

McGahee acknowledged that he could have reported in better condition.

"It could get better," McGahee said when he reported. "That's what training camp is for. I know I'm rusty. I know I'm not going to come to training camp and be on point. That's hard, and I've got to work to that level."

Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery noted early in camp that it would take time before McGahee would be completely up to speed on the playbook.

"He's got to learn what we're doing," Montgomery said. "The offseason program that we implemented here, they can't make it mandatory that you be here, but you need to be here to learn what's going on. Willis wasn't here, so he's playing catch-up. You have to be in great shape in this offense.

"Right now, he's going to struggle a little bit until he understands what we're asking him to do. If he wasn't the athlete that we all know he is, it would be frustrating. It still is kind of frustrating because we're trying to teach him and it's just not coming as fast as you would like it to, but you know it will come."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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