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Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Bills have until Nov. 5 to decide

Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills are leaning toward activating running back Willis McGahee next week even if the first-round draft pick is not immediately ready to play.

While a final decision has not been made, team president Tom Donahoe said Wednesday that placing McGahee on the active roster would be better than placing him on injured reserve and losing him for the rest of the season.

"We probably would be leaning that way," Donahoe said. "We can activate him, but it doesn't mean he has to dress. The thing that you probably do not want to do with Willis is put him back on IR because then he can't practice."

McGahee is the former Miami star who spent the last 10 months recuperating after tearing three ligaments in his left knee, which he hurt in the Hurricanes' loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

After opening the season on the nonfootball injury list, McGahee was cleared to practice with the Bills two weeks ago. Under NFL rules, Buffalo has until Nov. 5 to determine whether to activate him.

The Bills are in the midst of their bye week and next play at Dallas on Nov. 9. Should the Bills place McGahee on their 53-man roster, they have the option of ruling him one of their eight inactive players on game day until the team feels he is ready to play.

Donahoe said McGahee has shown steady progress during the last two weeks.

"Right now, he's OK to practice," he said. "Is he OK to play in a game? I couldn't tell you that today."