Notebook: McGahee adjusts to reduced role

OWINGS MILLS – It has been an unusual season for Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee. The former Pro Bowl selection has had to adjust to becoming the primary backup to Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice, and has done so without complaint. That doesn't mean he wants to be a backup forever, though.

"I don't think nobody is comfortable with being a backup," he said. "I was always one of those guys who wanted more touches. Right now, that's not the issue. The issue is keep going further into the playoffs.

"It's been pretty cool. I can't complain. I'm injury-free and Ray made it to the Pro Bowl.

Adjusting to the role, it has been completely different. This year, it's all about the team."

McGahee tied a franchise record this season with a total of 14 touchdowns, a dozen on the ground and two more on receptions.

He has rushed for 544 yards on 109 carries while backing up Rice, who gained 1,339 yards and caught 78 passes.

"I'm a backup, been backing up the whole season," McGahee said. "So, ain't nothing going to change. I've got 14 touchdowns. You can't win ‘em all."

Meanwhile, McGahee is looking forward to matching up against his cousin, New England Patriots cornerback Darius Butler, on Sunday during the Ravens' AFC-wild card game at Gillette Stadium.

"It's going to be pretty cool, man," McGahee said. "Darius is a good kid, so I wish him luck, but not that much luck. I don't want to give him no playoff advice because if I give him playoff advice, that means we're out of it and they're still in it. Good luck, that's the playoff advice right there."

At 6-foot, 235 pounds, McGahee has a major size advantage over his relative. Butler is listed at 5-10, 185 pounds.

Can Butler bring down McGahee?

"This is the NFL, anybody can tackle anybody," McGahee said. "But if it's one-on-one, nah."  

NO CONTACT FROM BILLS: Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said he hasn't been contacted by the Buffalo Bills regarding their head coaching vacancy.

"No, not to my knowledge," Cameron said. "That's the furthest thing from my mind. Our focus is strictly on New England. This is too great a group of guys to be around to let my focus be anything but just win this football game."

Fired by Bill Parcells after coaching the Miami Dolphins to a 1-15 record in 2007 in his lone season as an NFL head coach, Cameron has been extremely effective as an offensive coordinator.

Given the opportunity in the right situation, he'd like to take another shot as a head coach.

"Head coaching is a different challenge," he said. "Do I want that head coaching challenge again someday? Yes. Do I need that anytime right away? Absolutely not. I've got a young family and I love what I'm doing right now.

"Maybe there will come a time when I don't enjoy being an offensive coordinator as much, but I don't when that will be, because I love what I'm doing. Down the road yeah, I'd love that opportunity again. In my mind, it's down the road, and it's got to be the right situation."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was extremely complimentary of Cameron's work.

The Ravens piled up 363 yards and 24 first downs during a loss earlier this season to New England. "I have a lot of respect for him and the job that he's done, not just this year, but through the years in competing against him," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Going back to when he was in San Diego, he killed us there. Even in the '07 season, where we won those games, you know, they had a lot of injuries on defense. We were able to score a lot of points, but they still moved the ball against us very well.

"His players are well prepared, he has a good scheme, they execute it well, and I think he does an excellent job. It's always tough against Cam."

INJURY UPDDATE: The Ravens upgraded four players from limited to full participation on the injury report, including free safety Ed Reed (groin), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (ankle), linebacker Tavares Gooden (groin) and offensive guard Marshal Yanda (knee).

Reserve defensive back Marcus Paschal (back) didn't practice after working on a limited basis Wednesday.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (hip), tight end Todd Heap (neck), linebacker Jarret Johnson (back), defensive end Trevor Pryce (head), safety Tom Zbikowski (neck), long snapper Matt Katula (right elbow) and wide receiver Derrick Mason (knee) all participated fully.

Ravens special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg expressed confidence that Katula, who has struggled with his accuracy primarily due to tendinitis, will be ready for Sunday.

"He had a very good practice [Thursday] and [Wednesday]," Rosburg said. "So, yes I do, I'm confident he'll play well."

The Patriots made no changes to their injury report.

All eight players who participated fully Wednesday practiced again while offensive lineman Dan Connolly (ankle) didn't practice for the second day in a row.

Listed on the injury report: quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder, right ribs and right finger), wide receiver Julian Edelman (forearm), offensive tackle Nick Kaczur (shoulder), cornerback Shawn Springs (knee), defensive end Ty Warren (ankle), tight end Ben Watson (knee), nose guard Vince Wilfork (foot) and defensive end Jarvis Green (knee).

HAUNTING THE PATRIOTS: Ravens special-teams ace David Tyree isn't expecting a warm reception in Foxborough this weekend. He knows the Patriots' fans haven't forgotten him for his famous helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII that set up the game-winning touchdown for the New York Giants.

"I'm sure they don't show that anymore in New England,'' Tyree said. "It's probably been banned from television there.''

Tyree said he'll never forget that catch, and what it meant.

"Now when I see it, it's a quick snapshot back in time that, for me, causes me to appreciate that moment that much more," he said. "For me, personally, it's caused me to think about God's grace in my life and how it allowed me to be a part of NFL history in such a way.

"It's been a little while since I've been in Foxborough. It's going to be an amazing atmosphere to go back and play a great football team.''

SPECIAL VISIT: Director of player development O.J. Brigance, a former Ravens linebacker who's courageously battling Lou Gehrig's disease, and former majority owner Art Modell attended practice Thursday with both men breaking the huddle.

"With O.J., just to have him around is everything," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "I mentioned to him when he was coming out that this is going to be the kind of defensive game that O.J. is going to be proud of, just the way he played the game.

"It's just so great to have him out there. And Art, he's what the Ravens stand for. He is the Ravens. So when we have those kinds of people come out, that's special."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens practiced indoors again, which was unexpected considering that they'll be playing outdoors Sunday at Gillette Stadium. "That's what coach Harbaugh asked them to do," Rosburg said. "So that's why they didn't wear their helmets. .. You have to be smart when you don't have helmets on. Not going to do any face-up tackling drills."… Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who engaged in a brief feud through the media with former Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas a few years back, had no interest in reigniting the dispute or discussing his former teammate. Lewis said they haven't spoken this year. The two players were never known to be close when they were teammates. "Once you leave this program, you leave this program, you know?" Lewis said. "If you come back to this program, then you're a Raven. Once you leave it, you're not a Raven anymore. I don't focus my energy on people who have left the game or who's left us. I focus my energy on the guys that are here." … Rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb, who's on injured reserve, said he'll have his torn anterior cruciate ligament repaired during a surgical procedure scheduled for next week. … Rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher finished second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year balloting, but he was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for December-January.


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