Broncos place McGahee on IR with designation to return

The Denver Broncos placed running back Willis McGahee on injured reserve with a designation to return Wednesday.

The new rule allows a player placed on the list to return to practice after six weeks, but not play for at least eight.

If McGahee were to return in eight weeks, he would be available in the AFC Championship Game, should the 7-3 Broncos make it that far.

The 31-year-old sustained a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee during Sunday's game against San Diego, but he will not require surgery.

He currently ranks fifth in the AFC with 731 rushing yards on 167 carries and has scored four touchdowns this season, while adding an additional 221 yards on 26 receptions.

McGahee enjoyed a career rebirth after signing with the Broncos last season, amassing 1,199 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. It was the first time the nine-year pro eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark since 2007.

Rookie Ronnie Hillman got the majority of the backfield work in McGahee's place on Sunday and is expected to split ball-carrying duties with Lance Ball in the interim.