McGahee bulks up, maintains speed

WESTMINSTER – Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee peeled back his lower lip, displaying a large scab caused by getting hit in the mouth by strong safety Dawan Landry during the first practice of training camp. McGahee was spitting out blood following the Friday morning collision and said he'll need some dental work eventually.

"Look at my lip!" McGahee said Saturday at McDaniel College. "It's split. I could have sat out, but I didn't. I wanted to get back out there."

Undeterred by the rough start to training camp, McGahee went back to work Saturday and busted through tacklers for extra yards. Running with outstanding body lean and balance, the former Pro Bowl runner has another advantage working in his favor.

He's significantly bigger, having bulked up to just over 240 pounds from his playing weight of about 232 to 235 pounds last year. It looks like McGahee has been living in the weight room this offseason.

The added power and upper body strength was on display Saturday as he bulled past linebackers and safeties to pick up large chunks of yardage. "I like it," McGahee said. "I'm moving with it. It's not holding me down. I felt like when I came in lighter, that's when I was getting the injuries. I'll just go with the flow now and keep it up. I'm where I want to be, but I'm going to keep getting better."

McGahee hasn't shown any signs of losing speed with the additional bulk. His cuts and decisiveness are approaching regular-season form already.

Last season, McGahee rushed for 544 yards and a dozen touchdowns while working behind Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice. McGahee wound up tying a franchise record with 14 total touchdowns. McGahee isn't satisfied, though.

A fumble forced by inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe that was recovered by safety Haruki Nakamura on Saturday morning is still eating away at him.

"I had that fumble this morning, I got ear-holed and my chinstrap went over my lip," McGahee said. "I was nervous about my lip because I didn't want to split it open.

"I'm trying to come into camp and not make as many mistakes as I did last year. I have to see how training camp goes before I set my goals for the season."

McGahee know he's extremely unlikely to unseat Rice, one of the top all-purpose backs in the game, for the starting job.

Heading into what may be his final season in Baltimore, McGahee just wants to contribute again to a winning team.

"They're going to choose who they want to get the start," McGahee said. "As long as I play, man, it's all good."

Stoic about his playing time, McGahee has already proven that he can take a hit. And, no, he isn't holding a grudge against Landry or plotting payback in the form of a stiff arm or a lowered shoulder.

"I just messed with him, but it was part of the game," McGahee said when asked if he had spoken to Landry about the violent exchange. "You can't do anything about it. I just thought, ‘Damn, I've got to walk around here looking like an old football player, smiling with a missing tooth. I've got to get this fixed.'"

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