McGahee: ‘As an individual, my season is over with’

Street Talk McGahee: ‘As an individual, my season is over with’

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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee downplayed his recent mildly controversial remarks, including a seemingly egocentric comment where he said, "I can’t play for nobody else but me," while also expressing deep personal disappointment about his unproductive, injury-plagued season.

During a national radio interview, McGahee seemed to subtly blame the coaching staff for his litany of injuries and for asking him to change his approach to football.

"Honestly, they just took part of the whole conversation out of context and made it all about me and there was more stuff I said about the team," McGahee said Wednesday. "That’s how it all escalated. It was taken out of proportion."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he wasn’t worried about McGahee’s remarks, which have drawn some criticism locally from media and fans. 

"No, I’m not concerned about that at all," Harbaugh said.

McGahee said that the coaching staff hadn’t confronted him about the interview.

Nonetheless, McGahee couldn’t hide his feelings about rushing for a career-low 671 yards and seven touchdowns on 170 carries during the regular season.

"My season is over," McGahee said. "Since Week Five, I haven’t done anything at all. It’s not like I’m going to get 1,000 yards, so I’m just playing my role."

McGahee underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee during training camp after admittedly reporting out of shape, and has also endured ankle, eye and rib injuries.

McGahee busted a 77-yard touchdown run against the Dallas Cowboys a few games ago and has had three 100-yard games since the fifth week of the season, but that hasn’t eased his frustration.


"Still, it’s not like where I want to be at," McGahee said. "I’m used to competing but with the injuries and whatnot holding me back, I look at it as a loss."

Despite reaching the playoffs with an AFC wild-card game set for Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, whom McGahee gained 105 yards on 19 carries earlier this season in a 27-13 win, the former centerpiece of the Ravens’ offense doesn’t seem satisfied.

Pro Bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain leads the Ravens with 902 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, and rookie Ray Rice has averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

"See, I’m talking about my season, I’m not talking about the team’s season," McGahee said. "I’m talking about my season as an individual, that’s what I’m meaning, my season is over with. I’ve been hurt all year. Le’Ron and Ray are doing such a great job, so why change it?"

McGahee reiterated that he didn’t think he should have been asked to alter his running style and training regimen by the coaching staff.

"I tried to switch it up a couple of times when things weren’t going right for me and the coaches were saying, ‘Do it this way or do it that way,’ and it comes down to doing what got you here," McGahee said. "That’s what I mean by hanging with your style. It’s would be like me telling you how to report. That’s how the interview got out of hand. They picked and chose what they wanted to put on the air."

McGahee compared this experience to being injured at the University of Miami and replacing Clinton Portis before returning to start in the Rose Bowl.

"I felt like I really didn’t contribute to that season," McGahee said. "Even though I started in the Rose Bowl and we won, Clinton Portis had over 100 yards. I felt like I didn’t do anything. That’s just me, so that’s how I look at it."

TRAINING ROOM: Cornerback Fabian Washington didn’t practice due to a hyperextended right big toe suffered against the Dallas Cowboys, but remains optimistic that he will start Sunday after sitting out the regular-season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"It’s something similar to turf toe," Washington said. "If it was a bad turf toe, there would be no chance of me playing. It’s a pretty good chance that I will be out there playing. Nothing is broken, no ligaments are torn. Everything is fine. It’s just swelling."

Asked if he would have to take a pain-killer to be able to play, Washington replied: "Nah, I’m hoping not to have to do that. It’s a playoff game, so I’ll be out there no matter what."

Meanwhile, Rice insisted that he’s 90 percent certain that he’ll return after missing the past three games with a calf and shin contusion. He was limited in practice.

"I’m feeling a lot better and I feel optimistic and pretty sure that I’ll be playing this week," said Rice, who has rushed for 454 yards while catching 33 passes. "The injury has taken its course. It wasn’t a high-ankle sprain. It was something different and it limited me in what I can do with my game. It’s a playoff game, so, of course, I want to be out there with my teammates."

Also not practicing: free safety Ed Reed (hamstring), wide receiver Derrick Mason (dislocated left shoulder), wide receiver Mark Clayton (knee), cornerback Samari Rolle (ankle/foot), linebacker Jarret Johnson (calf) and defensive tackle Justin Bannan (foot).

Mason said his shoulder has improved since last week.

"Obviously, it’s still sore," Mason said. "Soreness, I guess, is a state of mind right now. I’ve got to be able to get through it, do what I need to do this week to make sure I can play at as close to 100 percent as possible."

Linebacker Antwan Barnes (chest), offensive guard Chris Chester (back), kicker Matt Stover (ankle) and safety Tom Zbikowski (thigh) were limited in practice.

"I don’t know if I’m playing or not, it’s up to the coaches," Barnes said. "It’s better, so I’m going to try and play. The tests came back a lot better than last week when it looked pretty bad for me being able to play again this year. So, we’ll see what happens."

Return specialist Yamon Figurs returned to practice after missing the Jacksonville game with a concussion.

"It was a full concussion, I failed my impact test," Figurs said. "My symptoms are gone now, no more headaches. I think I should be all right to play. It’s been a rough season, but I’ll bounce back. What better time than the playoffs?

FLACCO UNFAZED: Quarterback Joe Flacco doesn’t seem to care about not receiving any votes in the Offensive Rookie of the Year balloting that went to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

"No big deal, it’s just another thing I really didn’t pay too much attention to," Flacco said. "I never really expected it. Matt had a great year, and you’ve got to tip your hat to him and his team and what they’ve done. I’ll take a Super Bowl ring."

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs called Flacco not getting any votes a travesty.

BILLICK REDUX: One year ago, the Ravens were experiencing the shock of Brian Billick being fired on New Year’s Eve following a 5-11 season.
Conversely, it was a relaxed, confident atmosphere around the training complex one year later.

"We knew how we felt after coming off of last year, we knew the things we had to go through, we knew all the injuries, we just had to fight," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "That’s probably one of the most frustrating seasons you can go with when you have a totally depleted secondary. Then, everything just starts to go wrong.
"When you do things like that, you do get a breath of fresh air. It’s like, ‘OK, that chapter’s done. Leave that chapter closed.’ If everybody else wants to dwell in that chapter, let them dwell in it, but we have something else to do. The bottom line is it’s like a fresh breath of air."

QUICK HITS: When the Ravens signed inside linebacker Robert McCune on Tuesday and placed wide receiver Marcus Maxwell on injured reserve with a hip injury, it was perfect timing for McCune as he has been on and off the roster all season after being cut during training camp. "I’m just glad they gave me the opportunity to come back and help out on special teams and back up on defense," McCune said. "I’m just glad I got the call right in time for the playoffs." … Suggs continues to hold out hope that inside linebacker Bart Scott will be retained when his contract expires after this season. Suggs and Lewis are in contract years, too.  "Last week, I said that I think by some miracle all three of us are going to be here next year, especially if we go on this run," Suggs said. "Ray is our emotional leader. Bart is our crazy leader. He’s a little psychotic, but he’s Bart. He’s the ”Mad Backer’ and we love him for it. I can’t picture a defense without him. I don’t want to. I’m praying for a miracle." … Dolphins tight end David Martin (head/neck) and defensive lineman Randy Starks (ankle) didn’t practice. … The Dolphins lead the all-time series over Baltimore 5-2, including a 22-16 overtime victory last season that was their lone win during a 1-15 campaign. The Ravens won a 2002 wild-card playoff game 20-3 at Miami. 


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

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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