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McGahee hits the ground running

Willis McGahee is starting the NFL offseason on the right foot with the Buffalo Bills' new coaching staff.

The Bills' star running back showed up Monday with many teammates for the start of the team's voluntary, 12-week offseason conditioning program.

Last year, McGahee did his offseason training in his hometown of Miami, along with a number of other University of Miami products in the NFL. He also did not attend the first two weeks of voluntary organized practices held in late May.

"It's a fresh start," McGahee explained on Thursday. "Just trying to do things differently. I know it makes a big difference if everybody's here. We still have a couple people out, but they're out doing things with their family. I'm pretty sure everybody will be in next week. I just want to have fun and get off to a better start."

He said his presence is a sign he's excited about the new regime of coach Dick Jauron.

"Of course, it's a new coaching staff, a fresh start, new season coming up," he said. "The Super Bowl is in Miami. I want to be like Jerome Bettis. I want to go to the Super Bowl in my home city."

McGahee said he's looking forward to seeing what he can do in the offense coordinated by Steve Fairchild, who came to Buffalo from St. Louis.

"I know he came from a great system with the Rams," he said. "He had a lot of great people achieve great things, like Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson and the receivers. . . . I'm pretty sure I'm going to touch the ball. I'm just here to play football and make things happen."

There's almost nowhere to go but up for the Bills' attack, which ranked 28th last year.

"The offense [stunk]," McGahee said. "Say it, it [stunk]. But we've got new coaches. Everything is different. It's going to be a totally different show."

Jackson caught 43 passes for St. Louis last year in addition to running for 1,046 yards. McGahee said he would be very happy to be used more on third downs. He came off the field on most third downs last year, even in game-deciding situations, and finished with 28 catches.

"I'd love to be a part of the passing game, that would be good to show another side of my football skills," he said. "But you also have to be a team player. You can't overstep your boundaries."

Asked if he planned to play at lighter than the 235 pounds he carried last year, McGahee, who commonly jokes around with reporters, replied, "Who wants to know? I can't tell you. You know I'm not going to tell you. It's kind of a surprise."

A surprise, like the fact he was in Buffalo on Day One of conditioning work?

"Yeah, that's one surprise. I've got a surprise as far as my playing weight," he said with a laugh. "I might come in at 250."

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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