McGahee likely to remain a Raven in 2010

February 27, 2010|By Baltimore Sun reporter

INDIANAPOLIS — Ravens coach John Harbaugh more or less put an end to speculation about Willis McGahee's future in Baltimore next season, saying the running back will be a Raven in the 2010 season, even though he'll make $3.6 million and is coming off a year where he rushed for only 544 yards and averaged only 6.8 carries a game. "I think McGahee will be on our team next year," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh even went so far as to say McGahee could become the Ravens' primary ball carrier again because he doesn't necessarily see Ray Rice the backup and McGahee as the starter.

"I've never said that Ray Rice is the starter," Harbaugh said. "I know other people have said that. Maybe even my coaches have said that. But to me, the starting running back is the guy who is going to start next week, and it's the guy who is playing the best. I've told Willis, 'You want to start the game? You be the best running back that week.' And Ray knows that. Willis McGahee could run for 1,500 yards next year, easy."

Rice rushed for 1,339 yards and ran for seven touchdowns in 2009, and he also caught 78 passes for 702 yards, establishing himself as one of the most versatile running backs in football. But McGahee did score 14 touchdowns, and in the Ravens final game of the season, he ran for 167 yards and three scores to secure his team a spot in the playoffs.

"From last year to this year, as far as the way he's trained through that whole knee situation, to play the way he did at the end of the year and to be in the kind of shape he's in, I'm just impressed with the guy," Harbaugh said. "And he's a leader on our football team. He's one of the most fun guys to be around every single day."

Reed could return, still

Harbaugh also reiterated his belief that Ravens safety Ed Reed will be back for the 2010 season, even though the nine-year veteran and six-time Pro Bowl selection has said he may retire because of lingering injuries to his neck and hip.

"Ed Reed is playing, as far as I know," Harbaugh said. "I think Ed is one of the greatest competitors in football. You talk about guys who play like a Raven, right, who love football, love everything about football, that's Ed Reed. I've said I think Ed's going to play because I think Ed's going to do everything he can to play. If he's physically able to play, he will play."

Reed had 50 tackles and three interceptions this past season, but he missed four games late in the year with groin and hip injuries. He recently told the NFL Network that the nerve impingement in his neck has gotten worse. Harbaugh said the team will have a contingency plan if Reed decides not to return. "Right now, my assumption is he's going to be able to [play]," Harbaugh said. "If that changes or Ed changes his mind, that's obviously his prerogative. He hasn't told us that he's not going to play and medically we don't have any reason to think that he won't right now."

End zone Harbaugh also said the Ravens were working on re-signing defensive lineman Dwan Edwards, who is an unrestricted free agent. ... He also repeated his feeling that Troy Smith will remain with the Ravens as the team's backup quarterback next season. Smith's agent requested a trade late last season. ... Harbaugh said former Ravens director of pro personnel George Kokinis, who was hired to be the Cleveland Browns general manager, but fired after one year, is not back with the Ravens as far as he knows.

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