After suffering a season-ending broken fibula in the third week of the 2014 campaign, running back Danny Woodhead is back.
Through four games, the 5-8, 200-lb Nebraska native has racked up 347 yards of total offense (144 rushing, 203 receiving) and two touchdowns. Against the Cleveland Browns, Woodhead had a 61-yard catch-and-run to set up a touchdown pass on the next play from quarterback Philip Rivers to tight end Ladarius Green.
"I know the year is still young, but we haven’t had [a run] like that," Rivers said after the game. "That was definitely one of the highlights.”
Part of what makes Woodhead so dangerous is how shifty and elusive he is on the field. He also isn't afraid to deliver a block, even if it means sacrificing his body to trip up a lineman.
“We’ve got all the confidence in the world, and not just in Danny," head coach Mike McCoy said recently. "We have confidence in all of our players. Obviously what [Woodhead] can do in all phases, he’s going to go in there and he’s going to do what he can do. He’s going to sacrifice his body and do what he can so Philip [Rivers] knows he can get rid of the ball. We know what he can do running the football and obviously the mismatches in the passing game. We try and get him in on some individual things.”
Suffice to say the Chargers are glad to have him back.
His absence was felt both in the locker room and on the field after setting career highs in 2013 -- his first season with the Chargers -- notching 76 catches, 605 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Players lamented how the 2014 season would have ended differently had he been healthy all season.
“It’s good to be back,” Woodhead said recently, smiling. “It’s good to be back with the guys.”
Perhaps the most excited “guy” is his quarterback.
“We know what a big deal he is for our offense and how much better we are with him,” Rivers said. “He creates some different problems for the defense. He’s off to a good start.”
Added Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich: “I think Danny looks stronger than ever, I really do. The year before -- his first year here -- he had an amazing season, but he took a beating. He had a lot of touches and carries. He was physically pretty beat up. So, I think he's come back fresh and strong.
"Having him back is a quarterback's and offensive coordinator's dream because he just does so much for you. There's so much he can do. He has unique contributions that he can make to the offense. We certainly missed him last year. But it seems to me he's as strong, as quick and certainly as smart as ever."
As for Woodhead, he’s all about being a good teammate, helping out younger backs and contributing to the success of the team in any way possible.
“I am just trying to help the team out in any way I can,” he said. “I really am.”