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Broncos release running back Willis McGahee

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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)

DENVER — The Denver Broncos have released 1,000-yard rusher Willis McGahee, according to a team statement Thursday morning.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report the release, tweeting simply “Broncos released RB Willis McGahee.” The Broncos put a statement confirming the release soon after the tweet.

“It’s never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and community,” executive vice president of football operations John Elway said. “I appreciate all of the competitiveness, toughness and leadership Willis brought to the Broncos. He was an integral part of our team’s turnaround during the past two seasons, and I wish him the best as he continues his NFL career.”

After rushing for 1,930 yards and eight touchdowns over the course of two seasons since being signed by the team in 2011, McGahee skipped the team’s 10 voluntary practices over the course of the past several weeks. He did, however, show up to the team’s workouts this past week.

The aging McGahee, who will turn 32 this coming season, missed the final two months of last season with a knee injury. He was set to make $2.5 million this season.

In an effort to get younger at the position, the Broncos drafted running backs in the second round of the NFL draft each of the past two seasons. Ronnie Hillman was taken with the 67th overall pick in 2012, and Montee Ball was taken with the 58th overall pick in April.

Many suspect Ball to make a strong bid for the team’s starting position this season. He will face off against Hillman and perhaps former first-round draft pick Knowshon Moreno, who enjoyed a resurgence filling in for the injured McGahee late last season, rushing for 510 yards and two touchdowns over the team’s final six games.

However, some suspect Moreno may also be cut.

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