The Denver Broncos will be without running back Willis McGahee for the remainder of the regular season as Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports the 30-year-old will be placed on injured reserve due to a torn medial collateral ligament and compression fracture in his right knee.
"Broncos are putting Willis McGahee on IR, ending his season. Tough, tough blow," Glazer tweeted on Wednesday morning.
McGahee was expected to miss six-to-eight weeks with the injury, which occurred when his knee was hit by the helmet of San Diego Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer during the second quarter of the Broncos' 30-23 win on Sunday. McGahee underwent an MRI on Monday, which revealed the severity of the injury. The Broncos used the new "Designated for Return" label when placing McGahee on injured reserve, which means he could return for the AFC Championship Game.
Initially, Denver coach John Fox said that McGahee would not be placed on IR, touting the running back's healing ability and a recovery time frame that would allow him to return for the postseason.
"I tend to go from day to day to week to week. He'll be week to week," Fox said of McGahee. "Yeah, but I think right now, he's a fast healer, he's a tough, competitive guy. A lot of times your veteran guys are that way. We wouldn't, at this point, want to prolong it that far."
While the Broncos offense certainly flows through Peyton Manning, the loss of McGahee is potentially significant. McGahee led the Broncos with 167 carries for 731 yards and four touchdowns, adding 26 receptions for 221 yards in just under 60 percent of the team's offensive snaps. With McGahee out, the Broncos will rely on 2012 third-round pick Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball, who have combined for 74 carries and 282 yards and one touchdown and 17 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown as receivers out of the backfield.
McGahee's injury also means that Knowshown Moreno, a 2009 first-round pick out of Georgia who has not been active since Sept. 17, will get a jersey as the No. 3 back on the depth chart.