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McGee providing big returns on Bills' trust

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Returning two kickoffs for touchdowns already this season is one thing for Buffalo's Terrence McGee. The bigger surprise might be that he got the job in the first place.

In training camp, Bobby was always telling me how good he thought I could be,'' McGee said, referring to Bills special teams coach Bobby April.I was like, `Yeah, right.' ... But it's like he had more confidence in me than I had in myself.''

It's not that McGee lacked experience as a returner, having done so at Louisiana's Northwestern State. But that was two years ago, and the Bills had brought in several players last offseason to vie for the job.

What McGee didn't know is that April had an eye on him since the coach took over in January, following Danny Smith's departure. The reason is that April, who played linebacker at Nichols State in the 1970s, has an affinity with Division I-AA's Southland Conference.

I remember watching him, and I gave him real high marks,'' April said.He's one of those guys I'd like to refer to that when he was in elementary school and played `Not It,' he was never it.''

McGee has played a significant role for the Bills this season.

Besides filling in the last four games at cornerback for injured starter Troy Vincent, the 2003 fourth-round pick has also become an offensive threat, with his two scores matching the number of touchdowns rushing Buffalo (2-5) has generated.

His first score came Oct. 3, when McGee ran back a 98-yarder in a 31-17 loss to New England. His second played a bigger role, an 87-yard return that helped spark a 38-14 win Sunday over Arizona, earning him AFC special teams player of the week honors.

McGee's two touchdowns lead the league among kickoff returners Baltimore's B.J. Sams has scored twice returning punts and he's first in the AFC with an average return of 28 yards. He's also become only the third Bills player, and first since Wallace Francis in 1973, to return two kickoffs for scores in one season.

It's good to know that history,'' McGee said.But at the same time ... It should be more credited to my blockers.''

His blockers include London Fletcher and Aaron Schobel, both defensive starters, as the Bills go against the NFL grain by using first-stringers on special teams this season.

McGee's athletic ability has something to do with his success, too. What McGee, at 5-foot-9, lacks in size, he makes up for with his speed.

Against Arizona, McGee started at the right hashmark and followed his blockers across the field to find a clear path up the left sideline. Kicker Neil Rackers, in a diving attempt at midfield, was the only defender to get a finger on him.

At Northwestern State, McGee did just about everything, including a few turns running the draw as a quarterback.

McGee stood out in his one and only time returning kickoffs for Buffalo last preseason, when he had three runbacks for 136 yards, including an 85-yarder against Tennessee. That was enough to convince April.

I thought he was really tough, strong,'' April said.If he was a fighter, he'd have a high percentage of knockouts.''

The only knock against McGee is that he still has a tendency to not follow his blockers, a lack of patience expected to improve over time.

I'm still working on it,'' McGee said.I don't know where we stand as far as return average, but it could be way more than that if I was more disciplined.''

That leads McGee to believe he might break a few more for scores this year, which would challenge the NFL record of four touchdown returns last matched by Kansas City's Dante Hall last season.

The human joystick,'' McGee said, referring to Hall's nickname.I can't compare myself to him. But yeah, I think we've still got a couple of more in us.''

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