By Nate Ulrich
Akron Beacon Journal
He will turn 32 next month, but he still possesses the swagger of a player in his prime.
“I think I’m doing pretty damn good,” McGahee said Friday after practice. “Coming back from the knee injury, this and that, I can’t complain.”
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said McGahee will play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings (0-2) after signing a one-year deal with the Browns (0-2) Thursday in the wake of the organization trading Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first-round pick in next year's draft.
Chudzinski said McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey will handle the tailback duties, though he wouldn’t reveal who'll start.
“We felt like (McGahee) was the best guy available certainly,” said Chudzinski, who was the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami when McGahee starred there. “Me knowing Willis and how tough he is from a mental standpoint, what he brings to the table, I have 100 percent faith in him.”
McGahee hasn't played since Nov. 18, 2012, when he tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and fractured his lower right leg against the San Diego Chargers. He had been training in Florida since the Denver Broncos cut him in June, waiting for a shot with another team.
Little did McGahee know the trade that shocked the NFL Wednesday would bring him to Cleveland. McGahee said the Browns called his agent, Chafie Fields, Monday, the day before CEO Joe Banner said he began talking to the Colts about dealing Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.
“Honestly, to tell you the truth, when I got the call, he hadn’t been traded yet, and I thought, ‘I’m going to be working with Trent Richardson,’” said McGahee, who made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2011. "Then my friend called me and told me, ‘They just traded Trent.’ I called my agent, and he didn't even know it. It’s the NFL. That's how it is.”
McGahee said Ogbonnaya jokingly told him he was as “old as Methuselah.”
Kicker Billy Cundiff, 33, is the only player on the roster who's older than him.
McGahee, though, takes pride in his longevity. He insisted he's 100 percent healthy and ready for his new opportunity.
“I want to do everything I can,” said McGahee, the only running back from the 2003 draft class still playing in the NFL. “I’ve got to gradually come in. I can't do the whole workload. I'll do whatever it takes.”
He'll also speak his mind and refuse to be bashful about his confidence.
When asked if Miami still loses the 2002 national championship to Ohio State had he not torn ligaments in his left knee during the game, McGahee said, “Nope, we don’t. Everybody knows that.”
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