It's been stated, and generally accepted as fact, that there is nothing to worry about regarding Willis McGahee's decision not to participate in Denver Broncos Organized Team Activities this offseason. According to his agent, that's been McGahee's modus operandi for some time -- the veteran likes to work out elsewhere during the offseason, and OTAs are voluntary after all.
Even I, the wool pulled over my eyes, believed his agent when he said such things on Twitter.
But a couple of sleuthy commenters here at MHR have pointed out that that isn't the case. McGahee participated in Broncos OTAs only a year ago.
Back for OTAs was running back Willis McGahee, who missed last week because of a personal issue. - Denver Post, June 6, 2012
So what is keeping McGahee away from Dove Valley this offseason? Is it personal or professional?
Some reports suggest McGahee is still rehabilitating his injured knee from November 2012, but let's remember that McGahee was campaigning to play during the Broncos' Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens in January, and likely would have played the next week had the Broncos advanced to the AFC Championship Game. While some rehabilitation might still be in order, if he was good to go then, he should be good to go now. It doesn't make sense that that would play a factor in McGahee's decision not to participate in practices at Dove Valley.
Perhaps the addition of Montee Ball via the draft has made McGahee feel like the odd man out, or that his presence is unnecessary.
While many are jumping on the Montee Ball bandwagon, let's not forget the impact McGahee has had on this team. A free agent signing of the Broncos in 2011, the running back quickly became a leader for the Broncos.
Just ask Peyton Manning.
"I’ll say this: Willis was a great help to me last year," Manning said after OTA practice last Thursday. "A veteran running back — I played in the Pro Bowl with him — Willis has seen it all as a running back. When he got hurt last year, that was a blow to our team."
With McGahee out, and Knowshon Moreno not cleared to practice (but rehabilitating at Dove Valley) Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman have been getting the bulk of the Broncos' reps at running back. So is McGahee in danger of getting left behind?
"I think it’s the kind of situation where the players that are here, you’re excited about those guys being here and you work hard with the players that are here," said Manning. "The players that aren’t here — there are individual and specific situations. Whether there is a business decision being made on Willis’ part on his side or on the Broncos’ side, that is kind of to be determined."
I'll say this: McGahee is a pro's pro, and I'm confident he will show up to mandatory mini camp and training camp in the best shape he can. And when he's at his best, he's the best running back on the Broncos roster.
Unless Montee Ball hits the ground running (pun intended). And giving the rookie extra reps during voluntary workouts is only setting Ball up to succeed - instead of McGahee.