Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers have missed Darren Sproles since he bolted Southern California for the New Orleans Saints in the 2011 off-season. The team hopes running back Danny Woodhead can fill the void.
On Friday, the Chargers agreed to terms with the former New England Patriot on a two-year deal. Woodhead, 28, will likely be the team’s third-down back and a complimentary back to starter Ryan Mathews. At 5-foot-8, 200 pounds, Woodhead has a similar stature to that of the shifty Sproles. He may not have the physical skills to excite any fan base, but he’s a gritty player who has a great understanding of the game and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
Last season, Woodhead carried the ball 76 times for 301 yards, caught 40 passes for 446 yards, and scored seven total touchdowns. Woodhead is like a poor-man’s Darren Sproles and will likely be utilized in a similar way in the upcoming season.
“He has all the intangible qualities that we are looking for in the players who we want to become San Diego Chargers,” General manager Tom Telesco said in a statement. “We feel his versatility and playmaking ability will be an upgrade for our offense.”
Hours after bringing Woodhead on board, the Chargers re-signed running back Ronnie Brown to a one-year deal. Brown, 31, served as the Chargers’ third-down back last season and has a similar skill set to that of Woodhead’s. It’ll be interesting to see how the team chooses to utilize both backs, or if Brown even makes the team.
Rivers often utilizes his running backs in the passing game, so maybe Woodhead and Brown can still coexist on the team. If not, the younger, superior Woodhead be on the field while Brown becomes the odd man out.