Bills CB McGee eager to put injuries behind him
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Excuse Buffalo Bills cornerback Terrence McGee for looking to the heavens in attempting to recall the last time he enjoyed an injury-free season.
``It seems like year after year, it's always something,'' McGee said. ``It's like, dang, the football gods or somebody's trying to tell me not to play football.''
If they are, he's not listening.
McGee's no quitter, having shown resilience over a nine-year NFL career during which he's already come back from rotator cuff surgery, a back injury and a nerve problem that also required a corrective operation. And McGee's not about to quit now even while understanding his future in Buffalo could well hinge on whether his surgically repaired left knee will be healed in time for the start of training camp next month.
McGee maintains 100 percent confidence in his abilities. It's his body that's suddenly letting him down, with injuries having limited him to playing just 15 games the past two seasons, and 26 games over the past three.
``If I get healthy, I have no confidence issues at all,'' said McGee, who lists his knee at about 75 percent. ``The only confidence issue I have right now is will I be healthy in training camp? That's what I'm worried about right now.''
McGee has been a solid contributor in Buffalo since being selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft out of Northwestern State.
A starter since his second season, McGee has 17 interceptions and been credited with 101 passes defensed in 115 games, including 91 starts. He's been even more electric as a specialist, having returned five kickoffs for touchdowns, giving him a franchise-tying best of seven - including an interception and fumble return.
Much of that production came before injuries began catching up with him. He's finished two of the past three seasons on injured reserve, including last year when he was limited to just six games due to a pair of injuries.
McGee's troubles began in Buffalo's season opener at Kansas City when he hurt his left hamstring on the first play from scrimmage. After missing a month, he returned to play five games before tearing a knee ligament in a loss to Miami on Nov. 20.
McGee's recovery from surgery is on track with the six-to-eight-month timetable provided by doctors.
Not ready to call this season a last chance, McGee is realistic enough to acknowledge he's running out of chances to prove himself on a Bills team that is ready to move on with or without him.
Buffalo has spent the past two drafts stockpiling talent at cornerback. The Bills selected Stephon Gilmore in the first round in April, and Aaron Williams in the second round last year.
That leaves the Bills counting on McGee and returning veteran Leodis McKelvin to round out the top four spots.
Coach Chan Gailey maintains his confidence in McGee, while noting the key issue for the player is staying healthy.
``Terrence is an extremely good football player and has proven that on the field in big ballgames,'' Gailey said. ``Hopefully, we can get some of this behind us and he can stay healthy for a full year. That'll help everybody.''
McGee is approaching this offseason as if he has nothing left to lose. That was evident in February, when he agreed to restructure the final two years on his contract. In exchange for accepting a combined $5.1 million cut in guaranteed salary, McGee left open the opportunity to make much of that back by meeting incentives for playing time and production.
It was only fair, he said, noting: ``These past three years I've been hurt, but still getting all my money.''
The new deal puts the onus on McGee to show he can still perform, which is what he's wanted to prove all along.
``I would rather leave knowing that I can't cover a receiver, that my talent has diminished, that I'm not as fast as I used to be or I just can't play the game,'' McGee said. ``I'd rather that, then sit around knowing you were hurt and think `What if?' I don't want to live like that: What if? I'd rather just go out until I can't play no more.''
NOTES: CB Williams and DE Spencer Johnson are expected to miss a few days of voluntary practices this week to nurse what Gailey calls minor knee injuries. ... NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith visited the Bills and watched practice from the sideline. ... The Bills have three voluntary practices left this week before opening a three-day mandatory minicamp next week.