Denver Broncos place Willis McGahee on IR with Knee Injury

McGahee was injured in a game against the San Diego Chargers Nov. 18, 2012 (Photo: Denver Broncos)

McGahee was injured in a game against the San Diego Chargers Nov. 18, 2012. The Broncos cut him on June 13, 2013. (Photo: Denver Broncos)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos have reportedly placed top running back Willis McGahee on injured reserve, which may mark a disappointing end to his 2012 campaign.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer was the first to break the news on Wednesday afternoon.

The team confirmed that the running back tore the MCL in his right knee and suffered a compression fracture in a Week 11 win against the San Diego Chargers. But both McGahee and the team expressed hope that he could return this season, and both were clinging to it Wednesday.

According to a press release issued by the team, McGahee will be eligible to return in eight weeks, on Jan. 16. That would mean that he could potentially be available for the AFC championship game, if the Broncos make it that far.

McGahee will finish the regular season with 167 carries for 731 yards and four touchdowns. He also gathered 26 receptions for 221 yards, helping out QB Peyton Manning in the passing game.

The Broncos will now turn to active roster members Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball, neither of whom have more than 50 carries on the season. They’re also expected to activate former first round draft pick Knowshon Moreno, who, despite being healthy, has been inactive for eight weeks.

There are also reports that the team will workout free agent running back Steve Slaton, whose last major action came with Houston in 2008, when he rushed for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns after the Texans selected him out of West Virginina with a third-round draft pick.

The Broncos could also activate third-year back Jeremiah Johnson, who is currently a member of their practice squad.