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Broncos release RB Willis McGahee

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Even though running back Willis McGahee is coming off a torn MCL and a broken leg and even though Denver has three other legit running backs on the roster, McGahee still didn't think it was imperative for him to attend the team's OTA sessions.

Now, he's no longer on the roster, as the Broncos announced Thursday they have released McGahee.

That leaves second-round pick Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman to compete for playing time.

As CBSSports.com's Evan Hilbert wrote last month, McGahee's decision to skip voluntary offseason workouts was typical of his annual schedule, but Hilbert also wondered if “he might be sending the wrong message” and “he might be making it easy on the Broncos who could decide to part with his $2.5 million contract in 2013.”

Though the result ultimately isn't THAT shocking, the timing is a little surprising, because McGahee reported to work earlier this week for mandatory minicamp and practiced.

"I'm always on the bubble," McGahee said after his first practice. "Not too much you can do. It's a business. If something happens, it happens."

On Thursday, something happened.

“It's never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and community,” Broncos executive John Elway said in a statement. “I appreciate all of the competitiveness, toughness and leadership Willis brought to the Broncos. He was an integral part of our team's turnaround during the past two seasons, and I wish him the best as he continues his NFL career.”

While Tim Tebow gets much of the credit for leading the Broncos to the 2011 AFC West title, McGahee was probably just as important, rushing for 1,199 yards and four touchdowns while earning the second Pro Bowl bid of his nine-year career.

But the problem with McGahee is his injury history and the fact he'll turn 32 in October. Considering the Broncos seem to like Ball quite a bit, this move probably shouldn't have been surprising after all.

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