Bills will perform their own tests

Updated: October 7, 2003, 7:56 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Bills rookie Willis McGahee passed a physical on his injured left knee Tuesday, one of the final steps that would allow the running back to begin practicing as early as next week.

 Willis McGahee

Drew Rosenhaus, McGahee's agent, said his client's knee was "nearly equivalent" to full strength after being examined by John Uribe in Miami. Uribe is the University of Miami team physician who surgically repaired the three torn ligaments McGahee sustained during the Hurricanes' loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in January.

Also on hand for the examination, which featured a series of strength tests, was McGahee's physical therapist, Ed Garabedian.

"Willis' trainer and doctor appear to feel comfortable with him moving ahead with practice," Rosenhaus said. "It was a successful visit, and he's on his path to an amazing recovery. ... There doesn't appear to be any reason not to go ahead with this."

Rosenhaus said the Bills approved McGahee's exam in Miami, and Uribe was passing along the results to the team's training staff.

The final step for McGahee's return is getting clearance from Bills team doctor John Marzo.

Bills president Tom Donahoe declined to comment on the test results.

"We will offer a comment when Willis has been cleared by our doctors for practice," Donahoe said.

The findings back up the results of the Bills' most recent tests, which showed McGahee's injured knee to be between 90 and 92 percent rehabilitated.

McGahee, selected 23rd overall, opened the season on the reserve nonfootball injury list. The earliest he could take the field is next week, after the Bills (3-2) travel to play the Jets on Sunday.

NFL rules bar a player on the injured list from practicing until between week 6 and 9. Once McGahee begins practicing, the Bills would have three weeks to determine whether to place him on the active roster.

Because of his long rehabilitation, McGahee is expected to require at least two weeks of practice before the Bills would consider using him in a game.

McGahee has spent the past two months working out on his own while being limited to watching practice from the sideline. The most he has been allowed to do is catch passes in a stationary position.

In August, he signed a five-year contract that could potentially be worth $15.53 million. The deal is laden with incentives that more than double a base contract worth just over $7 million, including bonuses.

McGahee's presence could spark a running back competition in Buffalo. Returning starter Travis Henry was initially unhappy -- calling it "a slap in the face" -- the day McGahee was drafted.

Henry, who finished fifth in the NFL last season with 1,438 yards rushing, has since said he is open to competing with McGahee, who set school records with 1,753 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns last season.

Rosenhaus said his client is eager to show what he can do.

"He looks like he's closing in on getting back on the football field, which is going to be a remarkable accomplishment," Rosenhaus said. "We'll pop the champagne when he breaks that first touchdown."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press