Woodhead an important piece to Patriots new rushing attack

Woodhead an important piece to Patriots new rushing attack
October 18, 2012, 9:15 pm
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FOXBORO -- With Stevan Ridley putting together back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing games, and Brandon Bolden throwing in one of his own, the Patriots ground game has gotten some good attention this season.
Danny Woodhead also deserves a share of the credit.
Sunday against Seattle, New England rushed for only 87 yards as a team. Woodhead averaged 6.3 yards on his four carries. He added 46 yards on five catches.
Though his numbers aren't gaudy, they still made an impact.
The Patriots needed 6 yards and Woodhead got 7. They needed 4 and he got 9. They needed 10, he got 12.
"Danny is obviously a very important player for us," said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. "Hes made a lot of critical plays, whether its catches or runs, third-down protections or blocking blitzers. Danny has filled that role and done a really nice job with it."
Could Woodhead's work in clutch situations evolve into a third-down role similar to Kevin Faulk's?
"Kevin was certainly one of the best Patriots ever and had a great career and did a lot of similar things, but I think theyre different players," McDaniels noted carefully. "Danny did definitely show up and make some important plays for us yesterday like he has all year."
His responsibilities have at least shifted in the locker room, if not by default. When BenJarvus Green-Ellis was traded to Cincinnati, Woodhead, at age 27, became New England's most senior running back. Ridley and Shane Vereen are in their sophomore seasons. Bolden is a rookie.
So it's for Woodhead to answer, not ask questions.
"It's not something that I think about too much. I like to think of myself as a young guy, still. You guys are starting to make me feel old," he laughed. "But, whatever it may be . . . if I am older, I guess I'm older."
The Patriots may ask even more of him in the coming weeks. Bolden suffered a knee injury in Sunday's loss to Seattle and has missed practice since. If he's inactive for Sunday's divisional game against the Jets, the running back corps will have to rally.
Woodhead isn't worried.
"We're a very close unit. All of us are great friends. It's a very, very, very unselfish group of guys. That's what you need in a room like that. When you get off the field, if you make a play, the other guys are the first ones to be there to congratulate you. We've got a very tight room."