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HENRY RESIGNED TO LIKELY CUT IN PLAYING TIME

Since joining the Buffalo Bills in 2001, Travis Henry has been accustomed to being the team's featured running back when healthy.

But he's also a realist. He knew when the Bills drafted Willis McGahee in the first round two years ago that his days as the primary ball carrier might be numbered.

However, being more spectator than participant doesn't sit too well with Henry, who watched McGahee get most of the touches for the second straight week during the Bills' 20-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

McGahee, coming off a 26-carry, 111-yard performance against the Miami Dolphins, led the Bills with 58 yards on 16 attempts. Henry finished with 27 yards on only seven carries.

Falling behind the Ravens early made it difficult for the Bills to keep the ball on the ground, but Henry expected to be a bigger part of the offense Sunday.

"I was surprised, but that's what the coaches decided to do," Henry said. "I want to do what I can to help this team win, but it didn't happen today. It's a situation that obviously I'm going to have to deal with this year."

Henry returned to the starting lineup Sunday after being sidelined a week ago with a sprained arch in his left foot. The Bills' running game was going nowhere in the first half, so they turned to McGahee for most of the second half. He didn't disappoint.

The 6-foot, 235-pounder used his size and physical running style to gain 50 yards on 13 carries after halftime. He broke tackles and got positive yards when it looked like he would be stopped for lost yardage or no gain.

"We needed a spark because we weren't getting it done, and Will came in there and did a nice job," Bills coach Mike Mularkey said.

Despite public calls for McGahee to be the main man in the backfield, Mularkey has maintained that Henry was the Bills' No. 1 running back.

For McGahee supporters, Sunday was further proof that he should be the top running back. But McGahee is staying out of that debate.

Although he expected to get most of the carries in the second half Sunday based on how he was running, he wouldn't say that the starting job is or should be his.

"I'm just sitting and waiting," McGahee said. "When my number is called, I go out and play."

Normally, having two quality running backs is a good problem to have. The challenge is keeping them happy.

Henry and McGahee are good teammates who have not let this ongoing running back issue divide them. But both want a chance to show what they can do.

That's a little difficult when you're shuttling in and out of the game. The Bills have plays in which Henry and McGahee are on the field together, but both agree it's hard to establish a rhythm when sharing carries.

"I think the more times I touch it, the more comfortable I get and the more warmed up I get," Henry said. "You've got to have a rhythm. You've got to.

"Willis is a good back and I'm a good back. We both want to get a lot of touches, but there's only so many to go around. We didn't run the ball as well as we wanted today and we fell behind, so that might have had something to do with it."

McGahee was barely used in the Bills' first four games, but his playing time is increasing steadily. The more McGahee plays the better he looks. Unfortunately for Henry, the more McGahee plays, the less he will.

"It's out of my hands," Henry said. "I can only control what I do, and that's what I'm going to do. Whatever happens happens. I can't worry about it because we have 10 games left and we're fighting to save our season. We're in this thing together. We just have to keep working and get this thing turned around."
e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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