McGahee: 'I want to finish a game'

OWINGS MILLS -- Willis McGahee is sporting a red jersey that matches the bloody splotches in his left eye, an unwanted souvenir from being poked underneath his face mask two weeks ago against the Cleveland Browns when he also suffered a lacerated right eyelid.

Now, the Baltimore Ravens' running back is recovering from a painful bruised rib incurred during the first half of a 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night that has raised doubts about his status for Sunday's game against the undefeated Tennessee Titans.

McGahee was limited in practice Wednesday and was seen holding a red jersey signifying that he's off-limits to contact.

After battling back from a left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery last month, McGahee is wondering when his string of ailments is going to end. With his frustration mounting, he has set a simple goal beyond any statistical measures.

"I want to finish a game," McGahee said. "That's the goal: finish the game, be out there for my teammates in the fourth quarter, not trying to come back in the fourth quarter and not be able to finish. I want to finish a complete game and walk off the field with a bruise on my arm and things like that.

"I would say it's frustrating, but not frustrating. It's nothing major pulling me out. It's the little things like the eyes. Then, Monday night, I hurt my ribs. In football, you have to deal with the injuries."

McGahee fractured his ribs last year, but this injury isn't deemed as serious with X-rays ruled negative.

It's unclear whether he will be able to play against the Titans (4-0), who feature the fifth-ranked defense overall and the top-ranked scoring defense in the league.

"I'm not ruled in and I'm not ruled out," McGahee said. "The ribs are doing pretty good, I'm just banged up. It's nothing you want to mess around with.

"It's different this time. Last year, I think I broke two of them and I couldn't move. I can move on this one. This one is in my back. I just don't want to overdo it. The ribs are doing pretty good."

McGahee rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries against the Steelers, leaving the game in the first half with assistance from trainers. He returned in the third quarter, rushing for one yard on a run up the middle, but didn't return.

"He was in pain," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He wanted to play."

Because of all the injuries, McGahee's carries and yardage are down significantly from last season when he led the Ravens with 1,207 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

Currently, he ranks second on the team behind fullback Le'Ron McClain's totals of 215 yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries. McGahee has gained 106 yards and scored one touchdown on 28 carries.

Despite the setbacks, McGahee expressed confidence that his hard luck is eventually going to change.

"I believe something good is going to happen," he said. "I'm not one of those people that's going to get down. I could see if it was a toe, then an ankle, then a hip, then a hamstring. Then, I would be feeling like, 'What's going on?' It's not like that. You don't want to hurt the team and try to be a hero."

McGahee skipped nearly the entire offseason program, attending one mandatory minicamp and passing on nearly all of the voluntary practice sessions as he chose to work out on his own in South Florida instead of with his teammates in Baltimore.

He admittedly didn't report to training camp in optimum condition and wasn't completely up to speed on offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's playbook.

However, McGahee took exception to ESPN sideline reporter Suzy Kolber's suggestion during the broadcast Monday night that the reason he got hurt is because he didn't attend the organized team activities.

"Yeah, that bothers me," McGahee said. "I'm not here for OTAs, so I get hurt? If I was at OTAs and I got hurt, then it would be, 'He worked so hard. It's a shame.' No, it doesn't work like that. Things happen in football.

"I got hit in the ribs. Would my ribs have been stronger if I had been at OTAs? I guess I'm not drinking enough milk. I'm very disappointed that once again the reason I got hurt is because of OTAs. That was garbage."

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


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