FOXBOROUGH — While he was an every-down back in college at Division II Chadron State, where he won two Harlon Hill Trophies as the best player in Division II, Danny Woodhead figures to be more of a third-down contributor for the Patriots in Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.
Woodhead, who was signed four days after being released by the Jets Sept. 14, filled the roster spot created when Laurence Maroney was traded to the Broncos. But Woodhead will likely be called upon to help on third down after Kevin Faulk, the Pats’ third-down specialist, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee in Sunday’s 28-14 loss to the Jets.
“You know, I don’t know what everything is going to entail,” Woodhead said today in the Patriots’ locker room. “We’ll see what happens. Coach [Bill] Belichick, obviously, he’s going to have the call. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Any way I can help this team, through meetings or in practice, I’m going to come in and do my best.”
Woodhead, who had spent time on the Jets’ practice squad and 53-man roster in his first two years in the league, has displayed the necessary skill set to become a viable option on third down with his ability to run it and catch it out of the backfield.
When the Patriots signed him, Woodhead projected as a third-down back.
“He actually made [the Jets] as a receiver and played kind of in between receiver and a sub back for the Jets,” Belichick said earlier this week. “I’d say that’s the type of player he is, yes.”
Woodhead played in 10 regular-season games with the Jets last season, rushing 15 times for 64 yards and making eight receptions for 87 yards to go along with six special teams tackles. In college, when he was more of an all-around threat, Woodhead finished his career with 7,962 rushing yards and 9,749 all-purpose yards. He rushed for 200 yards in 19 games and scored 654 points with 109 touchdowns.
“You know, maybe that’s something I did in the past, but that’s the past,” Woodhead said. “That’s not something I’m looking at now. Right now, it’s to get better every single day. I’m going to try to get better for meetings tomorrow and it carries over each day and to know what the Bills are doing.”
Woodhead laughed when he was told it seemed the Patriots had cornered the market on Wes Welker-class receivers by acquring the 5-foot-9-inch, 195-pounder from North Platte, Neb.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’m just happy to be part of this organization and do my best in whatever I’m asked to do.”