FOXBOROUGH Ė He was wearing number 53 instead of his usual 58, but donít expect linebacker Pierre Woods to be trying to get his old number back from fellow linebacker Tracy White.
ďIím 53 now. Thatís it,Ē Woods said today in his first day back with the New England Patriots. ďIím not tripping about no number.Ē
Woods, 28, said he was thankful to have a job Ė one that didnít involve picking up trash or mowing the grass. Thatís what he was doing at his alma mater, the University of Michigan, when he got the call from the Patriots to come back.
ďYou stay humble, it doesnít make a difference (what you do),Ē Woods said. ďIt was just something to do. I didnít want to collect unemployment so itís work. Work and work out.Ē
Woods (6-5, 255 pounds) said he worked out twice at day at Michigan. He worked out for one team, the Kansas City Chiefs, since being released by the Patriots after four seasons on Sept. 4.
He was originally signed as a rookie free agent out of Michigan in 2006. Woods had 48 tackles on defense and 62 on special teams in 52 games.
ďIt feels great to be back, feels real good to be back,Ē Woods said. ďIím real excited and was just up in Michigan, working and working out and to be back is a blessing so Iím just ready to go.Ē
Coach Bill Belichick said the decision to sign Woods and release Shawn Crable was "best for the football team at this point in time.
"Iíd say just based on circumstances and the situation, all those factors, we felt like he would be able to help our team this week," Belichick said of Woods. "Whether thatís the way it is next week Ė that wasnít the way it was last week Ė I donít know.
"Weíve been in contact with him, [just] like a lot of players that weíve had a long history with. I think we have a pretty good idea where he is. "
More comments from Woods:
Did you feel it might not happen?
PW: Nah, you just have to keep faith man, whether it happened or it didnít Iím here, itís a blessing, like I said, Iím just ready to work.
How closely did you follow the Patriots?
PW: I stopped looking at the waiver wire, I donít have cable at home so thatís how close it was. (I watched) highlights at work. Thatís it.
What was work?
PW: Groundsman, just like the guys do out here, groundskeeping and stuff like. Thatís what I was doing. At the University of Michigan.
Was that humbling?
PW: You stay humble, it doesnít make a difference. It was just something to do. I didnít want to collect unemployment so itís work. Work and work out.
Were you surprised to get the call?
PW: I was excited, why wouldnít you be? You know what Iím saying? If it was your job and somebody called you, how are you going to feel? Youíre going to be pumped so thatís what I was. I was excited so it was a blessing.
Did you have any workouts with teams?
PW: OneÖKansas City a few weeks ago.
Whatís it like to jump right back into the Pats-Colts rivalry?
PW: Hey man, Iíve been working out twice a day for the past two and a half months, something like that. So you just have to be ready and stretch well, take care of your body, eat right and thatís what Iíve been doing. The guys at Michigan were taking care of me so big ups to those guys out there.
Ready for Peyton Manning?
PW: Man, Iím just ready to go out here and learn. This is my first day back so weíll see how it goes.
What do you think of the job these guys have done this year?
PW: A great job. I text guys and tell them good luck and things like that. No ill will with me, none of that, so thatís why I think they brought me back. Iím here to do a job and Iím going to do my job.
Hard not to think your career might have been over when the phone stopped ringing?
PW: You just donít think like that. You have to stay positive, I had positive people around me, the people that were real and have been real. Once you stop playing or youíre out, thereís a lot of people that stop calling. So those people that stopped calling, I know where they are. I ainít going to trip. I know itís a blessing to be back and Iím here to work.