September 27, 2010

Patriots Beat: Small guy, big impression

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Danny Woodhead is listed as 5-foot-9 in his New England Patriots' bio. That's probably generous, by a couple of inches.

Wes Welker, also listed at 5-9, towers over Woodhead, who has a choirboy face, talks softly and looks like the boy next door. Take him out of a pro football locker room and he certainly wouldn't stand out in a crowd on Main Street.

Yet, Sunday afternoon, Woodhead -- playing his first game for the Patriots -- had a big impact in New England's 38-30 victory over the Buffalo Bills. He rushed the ball three times, averaging 14 yards a carry, and scored on a 22-yard touchdown run that had everyone jumping out of their seats.

"I like Danny," said wide receiver Randy Moss, who for the second consecutive week spoke after the game, after saying he wouldn't be talking every week after the game. "He's a stub guy, a little short (guy). He runs hard and has some nice cuts."

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whose locker is next to Woodhead's, was asked to talk about him.

"Y'all seen Danny," said Green-Ellis, who led the Patriots with 98 rushing yards. "You know ... it's self-explanatory."

Woodhead, who was twice named the winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy (given to the top Division II player in the nation) while at tiny Chadron State in North Platte, Neb., is the latest of the Patriots plug-in specialists. And he could play a huge role the rest of the season.

The Patriots signed him Sept. 18, after he had been released by the New York Jets on Sept. 14. His value increased exponentially when Kevin Faulk was lost for the season with a torn right ACL. Woodhead can run, he can catch.

"I'm not disrespecting (Woodhead)," said Moss. "I know it's hard to replace Kevin Faulk but hopefully he can come in and be Woodhead and not try to be Kevin."

Woodhead realizes this, which is why he spent much of the week studying the Patriots playbook. It is complicated, but he absorbed enough to be available for Sunday.

"He had a pretty good week," said Coach Bill Belichick. "We put him in practice Friday and he was pretty good on all 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."

He certainly learned how to speak Belichickian quickly.

"It was great to be out there as a New England Patriot," he said. "I was excited. I get excited every single game. And today it was the Bills and we did everything we could to come out with the victory. And that was the most important thing, to come out with the W."

But what about your touchdown Danny? Remember?

You took the handoff, went through a big hole up the middle, then sidestepped two defenders at the 15 and ran to the left, where there was no one there. The sprint to the end zone must have been exciting.

"The linemen made great blocks," said Woodhead.

"I did the easy part, which is just to run it. The linemen did great and the receivers and tight ends ... I mean, you can't ask for better blocking as a running back. All I did was try to do my job."

What did that touchdown mean to you, Danny?

"More than anything, it was good to help the team out," he said, surrounded by media. "I'm not so concerned with getting my touchdown or whatever.

"I'm more concerned with getting the victory."

(Continued on page 2)

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