|Chargers sign Danny Woodhead to two-year deal||03.15.13 at 2:18 pm ET|
Free agent running back Danny Woodhead signed a two-year deal with the Chargers on Friday, leaving the Patriots after almost three full seasons in New England. The undersized Woodhead, who carved out a tremendous niche for himself in the Patriots offense, had 250 carries for 1,199 yards and 92 catches for 982 yards in his time in New England.
Woodhead was an utterly reliable presence with the Patriots, missing just three games in two seasons, and was a dependable presence in the passing game. His target rate was astounding — this past season, he had 40 catches on 55 targets for a 73 percent rate, the best for any New England pass catcher who was targeted at least 10 times. In addition, he became the first running back since Kevin Faulk to finish a season with at least 40 catches and 40 carries — he was the second-leading rusher on the team, finishing with 301 yards on 76 carries, good for a 4.0 yards per carry average.
Going forward, expect the Patriots to rely more on youngster Shane Vereen as a presence out of the backfield in the passing game. Vereen displayed a multidimensional flair late in the season — he had seven carries and five catches in the playoff win over the Texans — and will likely be asked to take over many of the responsibilities that fell to Woodhead over the last few years.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|What’s next on Patriots’ list of priorities?||03.14.13 at 12:43 am ET|
Now that the Wes Welker situation has reached a conclusion, here’s a quick look at some of the other priorities the Patriots have to focus on in the coming days:
1. Resolve the situations involving their own high-priority free agents: Even though Welker (and Donald Thomas and Pat Chung) is out the door, New England still has some key free agents of their own to worry about, particularly cornerback Aqib Talib and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. There has been remarkably little buzz regarding both of them in the first day or two of free agency, but expect that to pick up in the next few days, particularly in Vollmer’s case as more tackles start to come off the board. In addition, there are other free agents like running back Danny Woodhead, wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Kyle Arrington who have to have their own situations addressed sooner rather than later.
2. Make a decision on wide receiver Brandon Lloyd: He’s due a $3 million bonus if he’s on the roster on March 17. It’s not like this will play a huge role in the decision-making process, but the Patriots are extraordinarily thin at the wide receiver spot right now, even with Lloyd in the fold. At this moment, they have four receivers under contract for the 2013 season — Lloyd, Danny Amendola, Kamar Aiken and Matthew Slater. Even though they are deeper than most at tight end — remember, they have Jake Ballard joining a group that includes Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez — that’s amazing.
3. Continue to work the free agent market: Whether it’s because they are doing a good job keeping it quiet or they just aren’t making much noise overall, other than the Amendola move, they have been remarkably quiet when it comes to kicking the tires on available free agents. It’s important to remember that New England has always played it close to the vest when it comes to operating in free agency, so this isn’t necessarily a surprise. But at this point, roughly 36 hours in, they’ve been one of the more quiet teams. (For what it’s worth, there are some intriguing names out there at some positions of need for the Patriots.)
4. Work the pro days: This period remains a key part of the collegiate scouting process, and with pro days continuing throughout the month of March, several members of New England’s scouting department will be on college campuses throughout the country. On several occasions, player personnel chief Nick Caserio has said that the pro day experience — particularly for players who aren’t invited to the combine — can play a colossal role in the overall evaluation of a potential prospect. In addition, private workouts will continue throughout March and into early April as the Patriots try and get a handle on who they should target in next month’s draft. (In that vein, check out DJ Bean’s story here on whether or not New England should try to go after a wide receiver in the draft in hopes of trying to help replace the production offered by departed free agent wide receiver Wes Welker.)
|Bill Belichick: Now is not the time for decision-making||01.22.13 at 1:43 pm ET|
FOXBORO — To Bill Belichick, Monday was a day to reflect not only on the AFC championship loss but another winning season for the Patriots. It was not the time to make personnel decisions on key players like Wes Welker, Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and Sebastian Vollmer.
All of those players are among those are not signed for next season. Some can become free agents (like Talib) and some can be franchised (like Welker).
Whether he has a good feeling about a player or not, he and the franchise will not be making knee jerk reactions, considering there’s college scouting at the Senior Bowl this week and a market of free agents to consider in the next six weeks. Belichick was asked specifically about Talib but used it as an opportunity to paint with a broader brush.
“We will not make any decisions on any players into the future now,” Belichick explained. “You just can’t do it. There are too many factors, too many unknown things. All the things I said about Aqib, I meant and I still feel that way. Nothing has changed, but I can’t put into place an entire plan for the team at this point in time. There’s just not enough information; it’s too early.
“And again as I said, I don’t think you can, as much as you want to just go case by case and list each guy and what his deal is, I think that there is some of that, no question – but at the same time, when you’re trying to put together a team, you’ve got to look at the entire team before you just say, ‘OK well, we want to try to keep this guy. Well, we don’t want to keep this guy’ or ‘We want to try to get somebody else,’ or whatever. You’ve got to look at the entire context of the team and not just take it one guy, piece by piece. I don’t think that’s the way you put together an entire football team. You’ve got to see the big picture and how it all fits together and there are a lot of factors that go into that. That’s why it takes some time.”
Welker, who signed his $9 million franchise tag last April, went out and had another Pro Bowl season. What about his future? Will he be franchised again at just over $11 million or will he be allowed to play the field? Will he want to come back or will he want to test the market.
“It’s the same answer [as Talib],” Belichick said before the question could even be finished on Monday.
Some of the key dates to consider coming up:
“On balance I still thought that certainly there were a lot of positives from this football team,” Belichick said. “It’s a team that I enjoyed coaching. I thought that the players worked hard behind the scenes; everybody doesn’t see that, but on a day-to-day basis they worked hard, they competed well, they didn’t make excuses. They got better over the course of the season, both individually and collectively. We wouldn’t have gotten to where we were without a lot of good, consistent performances from a lot of people in a number of games and countless practices and meetings and all the things that lead up to that. That part of it, I thought there were, again, a lot of positives that we accomplished. Certainly, the outcome [Sunday] is not where we wanted to end up. I give these guys a lot of credit for what they did do and the number of times they did it and the number of times they did it in tough situations. Hopefully we can continue to build on that. I don’t think anything this year really means too much for next year. Each year is a new year and we start all over again just like everyone else does. Some of our younger players will have a little bit more experience. Hopefully that will be a good thing, but that doesn’t really count for anything until we go out there and start doing it again.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Chandler Jones, Danny Woodhead ‘probable’ for Sunday||01.18.13 at 4:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a sign they should be ready to go on Sunday, rookie defensive end Chandler Jones (ankle) and running back Danny Woodhead (left thumb) fully participated in practice Friday inside Gillette Stadium. Both are listed among five Patriots as “probable” for Sunday’s AFC championship against the Ravens. Trevor Scott, Marquice Cole and Nick McDonald also returned fully participated for a second straight day as the Patriots practiced outside in the bitter cold with 52 players. The team has not yet filled the roster spot vacated when Rob Gronkowski was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Thursday with a forearm injury.
As for the Ravens, running back Bernard Pierce (knee) returned to practiced on Friday on a limited basis after missing Thursday. Pierce is among four Ravens listed as questionable for the game. LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle/back), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle) and WR David Reed (thigh) are also questionable. CB Asa Jackson (thigh) did not participate for a third straight day and was ruled out.
Here is Friday’s complete report:
DB Marquice Cole(finger) Probable
DE Chandler Jones (ankle) Probable
RB Danny Woodhead (thumb) Probable
OL Nick McDonald (shoulder) Probable
DE Trevor Scott (knee) Probable
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots. WEEI-FM 93.7 will broadcast the AFC championship game between the Patriots and Ravens on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
|Bill Belichick: Danny Woodhead ‘would have been available’ to return to game||01.14.13 at 12:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Danny Woodhead injured his left thumb on the Patriots’ first offensive snap of the game Sunday. But Bill Belichick indicated that the running back could have returned had the Patriots needed him later.
“Danny was examined and back on the sideline for the remainder of the game,” Belichick said during Monday’s conference call. “Had we needed to use him, he would have been available to go back in there.”
Woodhead left the field and went to the Patriots locker room and was fitted for a brace on his left hand. He returned and was spotted catching passes on the sideline from Ryan Mallett at the half. He did not return in the second half.
Belichick said even though he could’ve returned Sunday, the team now needs to examine him closely this week and doctors will have to clear him before joining the team in on-field preparations for the Ravens on Sunday in the AFC championship.
“Now that we are into a new week, we will re-address the whole situation and try to get a good feel of what he would and wouldn’t be available to do, and how functional he would be doing it. So I would say that’s something we’ll have to look at during the week. Assuming the doctors clear him to play, which is a medical decision, then the next situation would be from a football decision, what can he do and how well can he do it? What is he, and we, comfortable with him doing in this week’s game/game-plan. That would all be determined at a later point in time.”
Shane Vereen replaced Woodhead on the Patriots’ second play of the game and wound up scoring three touchdowns, tying a franchise playoff record.
|Poll: How much does losing Rob Gronkowski hurt Patriots Super Bowl chances?||01.13.13 at 10:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — According to various reports, Rob Gronkowski needs another surgery after re-injuring his left forearm early in Sunday’s game and is done for the playoffs.
Gronkowski fell hard on the left forearm making a catch out of bounds on New England’s second drive. He immediately went to the bench and was examined by team doctor Tom Gill. He then made his way to the team tunnel and had X-rays which revealed the break.
Gronkowski initially injured the arm blocking on an extra point try on Nov. 18 and had surgery the next day. He came back and played against the Dolphins in the season finale before playing Sunday.
The Patriots suffered a number of injuries in addition to Gronk. Another tight end – Michael Hoomanawanui – was spotted with a big pack of ice on his left knee and left the locker room after the game with a pronounced limp. Chandler Jones injured his ankle late in first half and didn’t play again. Danny Woodhead injured his left thumb on the first offensive play of the game and did not return. WEEI.com’s Chris Price reported Woodhead left with a very large ice pack on his left hand after the game and did not speak with reporters.
|Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead injured early||at 5:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski appeared to re-injure his left forearm diving to make an athletic catch on the sideline on New England’s second possession.
Gronkowski dove along the deep right sideline and came down on the forearm. He immediately went to the bench and was tended to by team doctor Tom Gill. After holding the arm and appearing to be doubled over in pain, he stood up and was escorted to the Patriots locker room for further attention.
Gronkowski was playing in his second game back from breaking the forearm on Nov. 18 against the Colts.
Meanwhile, after a carry on the Patriots’ first offensive possession of the game, Danny Woodhead left the game with a left thumb injury and his return is questionable.
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