NFL

Bills CB McGee hasn't lost 'Game Day' reputation

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)

It's been so long since anyone's called Terrence McGee ''Game Day,'' the Buffalo Bills cornerback chuckled on Monday when reminded of his nickname.

''Ha, ha, hopefully, I can still live up to that,'' McGee said.

Against some tall odds, he's made it this far.

McGee picked up the ''Game Day'' nickname early in his career as a result of his perseverance. No matter how sore he felt during the week leading up to a game, he was usually ready to play come Sunday.

That's a reputation that certainly applies to McGee this year in his successful bid to make the Bills' roster for a 10th season.

Overcoming season-ending knee surgery and several setbacks that limited his practice time this offseason, McGee declared himself ready to play Sunday, when the Bills travel to face the New York Jets.

''I'll be out there on Sunday,'' he said. ''I can't really put a (percentage) on it, but I'm good enough to play.''

That's a relief for McGee, who at times had questioned his future in Buffalo.

And it's a big plus for the Bills, who are relying on his veteran presence to steady their young starting cornerback tandem made up of rookie first-round pick Stephon Gilmore and second-year player Aaron Williams.

Just as important, the Bills are already down one backup cornerback in rookie Ron Brooks, who had foot surgery last week and is expected to miss about two months. That leaves McGee expected to fill the fourth cornerback spot behind Leodis McKelvin.

''We've got to keep hoping Terrence progresses the way he's progressed thus far,'' coach Chan Gailey said. ''There have been a couple of minor setbacks, but really no major setbacks. And if we can just keep working, I think it'll be good for the entire season.''

Selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, McGee was a six-year starter after taking over the job in his second season. An assortment of injuries (rotator cuff, back, knee and a nerve problem), however, began to catch up with him.

He's had nine starts in 15 games over the past two seasons and finished last year on injured reserve after tearing a ligament in his left knee in a loss to Miami on Nov. 20.

Aware that his recovery was going to take between eight and 10 months, McGee took a proactive step in February to improve his chances to stick with the Bills. That's when he agreed to restructure the final two years on his contract.

In exchange for accepting a combined $5.1 million cut in guaranteed salary, McGee left open the opportunity to make much of that back by negotiating incentives into his contract based on playing time and production.

McGee was held out of spring practices and eased in during training camp. He made his preseason debut in Buffalo's third game, a 38-7 loss to Pittsburgh, during which McGee played much of the third quarter.

He had a setback after experiencing stiffness in his injured knee, which led to him missing Buffalo's preseason finale at Detroit.

McGee called it a minor setback in returning to practice on Monday, and is pleased with how far he's come.

''I wouldn't say satisfying, but you kind of feel like you've reached one of your goals in trying to come back, because you definitely have your up-and-down days,'' McGee said. ''At certain times you don't even know if you're going to be here. So you kind of reach one of your goals and try to make it to that next one.''

In his prime, McGee was a solid player, who had 17 interceptions and 101 passes defensed in 115 career games. He was even more electric on special teams, having returned five kickoffs for touchdowns, giving him a franchise-tying best of seven - including an interception and fumble return.

Unsure how much he'll be able to contribute this season, McGee has learned to appreciate how much it means to still have the opportunity to continue playing.

''I never really had to question that before,'' McGee said. ''It's your 10th year. You know that it's winding down eventually anyway, so you've got to appreciate times like this.''

Notes: DE Mark Anderson returned to practice after missing two weeks with a groin injury. ... DT Marcell Dareus practiced Monday despite being bothered by a case of tonsillitis. ... RT Erik Pears (groin) practiced on a limited basis and his status is uncertain for Sunday.

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Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Tagged: Bills, Terrence McGee

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