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Report: Willis McGahee out 6-8 weeks with knee injury

Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee speaks to reporters after a game this season.

Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee speaks to reporters after a game this season.

DENVER — The optimism surrounding the Denver Broncos took a blow Monday when reports surfaced that starting running back Willis McGahee is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a knee injury.

Citing a team source, ESPN reported that McGahee suffered a torn MCL in Sunday’s 30-23 win over the San Diego Chargers. He carried the ball seven times for 55 yards in the contest before exiting the game in the second quarter.

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Head coach John Fox told the media after the game that McGahee was kept on the sidelines as a “precautionary” move. This was after the back reported that he was experiencing swelling in his knee.

According to these new reports, the injury is much more serious than originally suspected.

A season after rushing for 1,199 yards for the Broncos in his first season with the team, McGahee was on pace to top 1,000 yards on the ground once again this year, rushing for 731 yards through 10 games and notching four touchdowns this season.

The Broncos used a combination of rookie Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball to replace McGahee after he left the game Sunday. Hillman carried the ball 12 times for 43 yards and Ball had six attempts for 25 yards.

Neither Hillman nor Ball have carried the football more than 50 times this season.

The Broncos also have Jeremiah Johnson on their practice squad. The third-year back from Oregon played in eight games, rushing the ball 14 times for 77 yards last season.