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McGahee reunited with Studesville; RB White injured

The Denver Broncos created a Buffalo reunion in their backfield this summer when they signed former Bill Willis McGahee.

He rejoins running backs coach Eric Studesville, who coached for six years in Buffalo.

"He's probably the only coach that knows me," McGahee said upon signing with the Broncos. "He knows what I can do and what I can't do. He knows my attitude and he knows I'm going to prepare for the game. It's like, 'Welcome home.'"

McGahee, who turns 30 in October, is looking to rebound from three straight declining years in Baltimore. McGahee averaged 289 carries and 1,121 yards for the Bills from 2004 through 2006. He then "shot his way out of town" with comments critical of Buffalo and forced a trade to Baltimore. He gave the Ravens a big year in 2007, rushing for 1,207 yards. But McGahee gradually faded into the shadow of Ravens back Ray Rice after that. McGahee followed with 671 yards in 2008, 544 yards in 2009 and 380 yards last season. He had only 100 carries last year, but he did score five touchdowns. He was cut by the Ravens in late July.

The Broncos see the 235-pound McGahee as a big complement to 210-pound starting back Knowshon Moreno.

"He's a guy who has performed in this league and performed well," Studesville told Denver reporters. "He brings depth to the room and he's a little different from Knowshon. Knowshon is more of a slasher, he's quicker, a space guy. He brings a different dimension, which is something you have to plan for."

Studesville coached running backs in Buffalo from 2004 through 2009. He joined the Broncos in 2010 and served as the interim head coach the final four games of the season after Josh McDaniels was fired.

New Broncos head coach John Fox loved a run-oriented, backs-by-committee offense when he was in Carolina, so McGahee is hopeful of more work.

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Bills rookie running back Johnny White suffered an injury to the head area on the first drive of the third quarter and had to be driven off the field in a cart. He was taken to a Denver area hospital.

Bills doctors immobilized White and strapped him to a stretcher before he left the field. White was moving his arms before being strapped down. The injury occurred on a running play. White, a fifth-round draft choice from North Carolina, changed direction to his right and was thrown hard to the ground by Denver linebacker Mario Haggan, a former Bill. Doctors attended to White for 10 minutes before he was taken off the field.

The Bills reported after the game that White had been cleared at a Denver hospital and did not suffer a major injury. He was to fly home with the team.

Bills linebacker Arthur Moats also had to be carted off the field in the second half. He got on the cart under his own power and was sitting up.

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The Broncos used Tim Tebow as the third-string QB behind starter Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn on Saturday. He entered the game with about 10 minutes remaining.

Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida, was the 25th overall pick in the draft last year. He has been splitting snaps with the second team with Quinn, former starter for the Cleveland Browns. Tebow was second in the game last week.

Most Broncos camp observers say if one ignored names and reputations, Tebow clearly has ranked third among the team's quarterbacks this summer. Tebow has had some good moments in games. He's still adjusting to playing from under center, as opposed to in the shotgun, as he did in college. And he's still working on going through his pass-route progressions and resisting the urge to escape the pocket too soon.

Broncos President John Elway made it clear over the offseason that Tebow still has a long way to go to become an accurate passer from the pocket in the NFL.

Orton is the clear-cut No. 1, despite the fact Denver tried to trade him to Miami before training camp opened. The deal fell through when Orton couldn't agree to a contract with Miami. Quinn did not play a down as a Broncos backup last season. He has made only 12 NFL starts since being a first-round pick of the Browns in 2007. However, Quinn has looked good this summer, and he led two TD drives in the Broncos' first preseason game.

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Second-year man Danny Batten started at outside linebacker in place of Shawne Merriman, who was held out as a precaution with a minor leg muscle strain. Also out for the Bills were Roscoe Parrish, Justin Rogers, Kelvin Sheppard, Chris Hairston, Craig Davis, Shawn Nelson and Chris White.

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The Broncos lost two key defensive tackles this week. Ty Warren, their No. 3 DT, suffered a partially torn triceps Monday and is out several months. Warren, a free agent from New England, signed a two-year, $4 million deal this month.

Starting defensive tackle Marcus Thomas injured a pectoral muscle and is out the rest of the preseason. Starting in their place Saturday were Brodrick Bunkley, newly acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles, and holdover Kevin Vickerson.

The Broncos claimed linebacker Alvin Bowen, a former Bills fifth-round pick, off waivers from Jacksonville this week. Denver also claimed defensive tackle DeMario Pressley off waivers from Indianapoils. That gives the Broncos' defense both an Elvis (Dumervil) and a Pressley.

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The Broncos' home has a new name. It has gone from Invesco Field at Mile High to Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The naming-rights deal was approved this week. The Sports Authority, a sporting goods company, takes over the remaining term of the 20-year contract Invesco struck in 2001. It will pay $6 million a year for the rights. Half goes to the Broncos and half to the Denver capital-fund company that owns the stadium.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com