FOXBORO – Danny Woodhead made his first
strides to fill the huge shoes of a Patriots legend
When Kevin Faulk's season ended last week when he was placed on the injured reserve list with a knee injury, the 5-foot-9-inch, 200 pound had a chance to fill the void left by the fifth all-time Patriots leading rusher when he stepped on the field against the Bills.
Woodhead's impact was immediate when he scored on a 22-yard rush in the second quarter. The touchdown gave the Patriots a 14-13 lead. He finished with 42 yards on three carries, an average of 14 yards per rush in the 38-30 Patriots victory.
On his touchdown run, "The linemen made great blocks. I did the easy part, which is just run it. The linemen did great and the receivers and tight ends," said Woodhead following the game. "You can't ask for better blocking as a running back. All I did was try to do my job."
New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead (39) runs past Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Spencer Johnson (91) for a touchdown as teammate Brandon Tate (19) leads him in during the first half of their 38-30 win in an NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Woodhead signed with the Patriots earlier this month after being released by the New York Jets. Now in New England, Woodhead said he has been welcomed by his new teammates. "That's the great thing about the guys in this locker room and the organization and the coaches, they made me feel comfortable right from the beginning and it's made things a lot easier," said Woodhead.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said Woodhead's hard work during the week helped him make a contribution to the offense.
"Danny really did a good job," said Belichick. "He came in here and really started grinding through it on Monday and then Tuesday – the off day – and Wednesday. He had a pretty good week. We put him in practice on Friday and he was pretty good on all of his assignments and everything he had to do. We didn't ask him to do everything, but I think he's working pretty hard at it. He picked it up pretty quickly. He seems like a smart guy.
"We were able to have a couple long drives there and got a couple plays from Woody (and from) our spread offense, so that was good," he said.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he was impressed with Woodhead. "If you can see him back there, it's hard. He crouches down. He's tucked in there behind the center," said Brady. "He did great. What an impressive performance for a guy who's been here for 10 minutes. He did a great job."
Patriots Receiver Wes Welker said Woodhead gives the Patriots offense another option in the backfield. "It was good to see," said Welker. "He's obviously a really good player. He made a lot of good plays for us, a lot of good runs. It was good to have a guy go out there and have some draw plays that went a good distance for us."
Bills Linebacker Andra Davis compared Woodhead to Welker. "He's a lot like having a Welker in the backfield," said Davis after the game. "We didn't know a lot about him coming into the game but we saw him warming up before the game, and then after that first run you could tell he was a quick short little guy. It doesn't matter who they put back there, they are all capable."
With Faulk gone for the year, the Patriots will have to continue to use Woodhead's versatility in the backfield to fill that void.
Faulk played in 147 games as a member of the Patriots. Woodhead has played one. It's a long way to go, but so far, so good for the little running back.
Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin (here. )