UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 14 at 11:44 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
Encouraging news for Patriots fans as Donny Wood appears to have escaped significant injury. Boston.com's Shalise Manza Young has the latest:
BB asked about Woodhead - says Danny examined, back on sideline during game, if team had needed him he could have returned— shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) January 14, 2013
Belichick added that Woodhead will be re-evaluated this week...sounds like worst-case scenario averted, as @rochiewbz indicated this morning— shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) January 14, 2013
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UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 14 at 9:16 a.m. ET
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The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young reported the following on Woodhead’s condition.
Danny Woodhead appeared to injure left hand on first offensive play...has gone back to locker room— shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) January 13, 2013
The Patriots provided more details on the injury:
Danny Woodhead left the game with a thumb injury. His return is questionable.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 13, 2013
The play on which Woodhead was injured was a run that resulted in no gain.
New England has other options in the backfield, but Woodhead is the most versatile rusher on the roster.
Stevan Ridley is the primary back and gained 1,263 yards while scoring 12 touchdowns during the regular season. However, Shane Vereen also received 62 attempts during the course of the year.
Vereen is the player who is likely to receive most of Woodhead’s carries if he is unable to return to the game, as ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss notes:
We'll keep an eye on that Danny Woodhead injury (left hand/wrist). Thrusts Shane Vereen into earlier than anticipated action at RB.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 13, 2013
Woodhead’s absence will be felt mostly in the passing game, where his receiving skills and ability to make defenders miss made him an ideal checkdown option. He led all the New England running backs this season with 40 receptions for 446 yards and three touchdowns.
If one of the other backs is unable to step up as a receiver, the Patriots will not be able to move the ball as effectively as they do with Woodhead on the field.
He is a sure-handed player who chips in and does the little things for his team, and he has the ability to make a difference when defenses are occupied with the Patriots' other playmakers. New England will greatly benefit if Woodhead is able to return to this game.