Draft Sharks wrote:Travis Henry/Willis McGahee Update
By Gene Battaglia
A new formation was the big story coming out of Buffalo's first
minicamp: Travis Henry and Willis McGahee, both in the backfield at
the same time. Is this the new base formation for the Bills? Not
likely. But it certainly has people talking (and fantasy football
"To have us in the backfield at the same time provides confusion
because you don't know who is going to get the ball," Henry told
Bills Digest. "But let me put it like this. He ain't too thrilled
about blocking and I ain't too thrilled about blocking, but we're
going to make it work."
And so, one of the biggest running back competitions in 2004 begins.
The controversy has been brewing since draft day '03, when Bills GM
Tom Donahoe shocked the world by selecting a running back with two
torn knee ligaments (his ACL and MCL).
McGahee looked great at mini-camp recently. There was no limp (which
there was, as late as November). His cuts were crisp on the
artificial turf in the Bills fieldhouse. "He's healthy," said
Indeed, McGahee's rehab is complete, and he is itching to play, as
evident by his new "Guess Who's Back" tattoo on his neck. By the time
preseason arrives, it will have been 18 months since his gruesome
injury in the Fiesta Bowl. The big question won't be answered until
August, which is: How will the knee hold up in live action? No one
can answer that now, which is why the Bills will hold onto Henry.
Ignore the speculation that the Bills will trade Henry to move up in
However, Henry's contract is cheap and attractive, making the
two-time 1000-yard rusher a hot commodity in a league with several
RB-starved clubs. Bob Matusak of the Associated Press appeared on
ESPN Radio's 'Colin Cowheard Show' last month and hinted that Mike
Mularkey might consider Henry as trade bait to move up on draft day.
Perhaps the new head coach is enamored of WRs Roy or Mike Williams...
It's an interesting thought - especially when you consider that GM
Tom Donahoe didn't draft Willis McGahee to be a committee back. But
we think that at least for this season, the Bills will stick with
Travis Henry endeared himself to coaches by playing through a cracked
fibula and not only performing, but performing like a Pro Bowler.
After the injury, Henry carried the ball 148 times in seven weeks,
gaining 610 yards with a healthy 4.1 average - including 282 yards in
late-season wins over the Giants and Jets. You have to also
remember, this is a kid who swore back in September that McGahee
would not take his job. "I'm a
franchise back," Henry said. "I don't see myself giving my carries
to Willis. Na-uh. We can't both be here. Something's gotta happen.
Either they trade me or trade him." Of course, Henry has changed his
tune since last year.
Another factor to consider is fumbling - a problem that for Henry may
have prompted McGahee's selection. In 2002, Henry was the worst RB in
the AFC in holding onto to the football with 13 fumbles. Only Trung
Canidate (with St. Louis) had a worse fumbles per carry average. In
2003, Henry cut the number nearly in half - only seven. But if
fumbles become a problem again, you can bet Henry will lose some
At minicamp, Henry took the snaps with the first string offense.
McGahee worked in passing situations, and in the formation with
Henry. Even though McGahee is healthy, it's clear that the Bills
still are bringing him along slowly. And it makes sense, as it is
Look for the Bills, at first, to use McGahee on third downs and to
give Henry a breather when needed. Ten touches a game for McGahee is
a reasonable expectation. But should Henry get hurt and/or get a
touch of "fumbilitis," then McGahee will get his chance to be the
every down back.
Carolina proved last year an offense with two talented backs can
work. That's the blueprint Buffalo will start out with. It is a
situation, though, that needs to be monitored closely in training
camp. Speaking of which, Draft Sharks will have a staff writer at
Bills training camp all summer this year - just to give you a head's
up on the Bills running back situation. Please make sure to check
back in August!
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Does this change anyone's rankings? It should be interesting to see how this ends up (perhaps who bitches about blocking the most).