We aren’t a full quarter into the AFC Divisional Playoff matchup between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans but it appears the first injury blows have been struck and it could be quite serious for the Patriots.
On the Patriots first drive, a drive they went three and out by the way, talented running back Danny Woodhead appeared to have injured his hand. At first he simply went to the sidelines, but now it has been reported that he has been taken to the locker room for further examination and possibly x-rays.
From a scheme standpoint losing Woodhead could be very significant for the Patriots. They love to use Woodhead in that hybrid running back and wide receiver role, taking advantage of his quickness and change of direction and excellent hands. Presumably if Woodhead cannot return, running back Shane Vereen would have to assume a larger role in the offense. While Vereen is a nice player he does not bring to the Patriots offense what Woodhead can, and so I would assume a larger part of Woodheads offense would turn instead to wide receiver Wes Welker, as his skill set complements more that Woodhead can do.
Update-Along those same lines, tight end Rob Gronkowski appears to have re-inured his broken forearm on a long pass play where he made the catch out of bounds and rolled up on his injured arm and has been on the sidelines in obvious pain ever since finally heading to the locker room as well. This will be another situation to monitor as we know how tough Gronk is, but he just may not be able to risk further injury, and this would leave the Patriots even more shorthanded on offense.