ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With running back Willis McGahee sidelined for an extended period with a torn ligament in his knee, the team announced on Wednesday that he will be placed on the injured reserve list with a designation to return.
McGahee must miss six weeks of practice and eight weeks of games before he is eligible to return to the active roster.
That makes McGahee eligible to return to practice on Wednesday, Jan. 2 — three days after Denver's final regular-season game against the Kansas City Chiefs -- and to play in any games after Jan. 16, which leaves only the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl on the NFL schedule.
The short-term injured reserve is a new NFL rule that was adopted in the offseason, allowing teams to designate one player to return from its injured reserve list each season. The player must be designated for return at the time he is placed on the injured reserve list. The Broncos currently have three running backs on the active roster -- Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno -- along with fullback Chris Gronkowski.
"Right now, we feel really good about the guys we have — they're trained in our system," Head Coach John Fox said on Monday. "I've said many, many times, it's the next man up. It was yesterday and will be next Sunday. Who that'll be? We'll see how practice goes and what our active list will look like next Sunday."