TSN: Henry ready to compete against McGahee for Bills job

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  1. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Henry ready to compete against McGahee for Bills job

    August 10, 2004 Print it

    Travis Henry is at peace with himself and secure in his future wherever it might lead.

    So go ahead and ask the Buffalo Bills starting running back all you want about his feelings toward sharing the backfield with Willis McGahee this season.

    "No reason tiptoeing around it," Henry said, following a training camp session in suburban Rochester. "There ain't no need to be sitting around saying, 'What the heck?' If you want to talk about it, talk about it."

    The only thing he'll ask is not to put words in his mouth or try to get him to say something negative.

    "I don't know what you want me to say. I don't know how you want me to react," Henry said. "The situation has been dealt. Everybody knows about the situation. It's just a situation that he and I have to get through."

    Henry versus McGahee is the dominant topic of discussion for the Bills heading into the season.

    Henry remains the starter, coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. His 1,356 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last year were even more impressive in that he missed just one game while playing with both a rib injury and a broken bone in his right leg.

    McGahee is the challenger. Selected 23rd overall in the 2003 draft, the former Miami star has shown so far that he's ready to play after missing last season while recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

    Although the Bills haven't tipped their hand, the perception is that McGahee has the edge to eventually supplant Henry.

    McGahee is a first-round pick and was initially projected to go among the top-three selections before he got hurt in a sophomore season during which he set Miami records with 28 touchdowns and 1,753 yards rushing.

    Henry, chosen 58th overall in the 2001 draft, has had to live with the knock that he's somewhat undersized at 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, and has lacked the ability to consistently break long runs. McGahee, in comparison, is 6-feet, 223 pounds, and considered to have breakaway speed.

    The Bills gave McGahee every chance to succeed in last weekend's scrimmage against Cleveland, in which he scored four touchdowns, three of them in goal-line drills from the 2.

    Henry shone, too. He scored one touchdown and was extensively used in Buffalo's first series, during which he had three carries for 25 yards.

    Henry is used to competition, going back to his college career at Tennessee. There he backed up Jamal Lewis before Lewis departed and Henry got an opportunity to emerge as a senior.

    "I'm always out to prove myself," Henry said. "I don't have a problem proving people wrong. I always do it."

    Henry is long past his initial reaction to McGahee's selection, which on draft day 2003 he described as a slap in the face. Henry and McGahee have developed what can best be described as a mutual respect, made only somewhat uncomfortable in that they're both after the same job.

    "I believe I'm a featured back," Henry says> "And I believe he can be a featured back in this league for some team."

    McGahee has called Henry a friend, adding that his presence will help push Henry to play even better.

    What's evident to Henry is that something will eventually have to give. He believes that one of them will be traded or released prior to the start of next season.

    Henry, who is signed through 2005, would love to be the one staying.

    But he won't worry if he's the one going, confident in that he's established a strong reputation as a capable starter.

    "My resume is tight," he said. "I'm not a betting man, but I'm willing to bet there's 31 teams out there that would love to have me running for them. ... So it's not the end of the world."

    He proved that much to himself by playing through the injuries last season.

    "I just feel like I can get over anything after what I did last year," Henry said. "That's what makes me come in and have a straight face and ... walk with my head up."


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