The San Diego Chargers signed former New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead to a two-year deal worth $3.5 million in March. Woodhead is listed as the No. 3 RB on San Diego’s depth chart behind Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown, but this should not be much of a concern.
Woodhead led all running backs in yards per reception last year, and had the same amount of rushing touchdowns as San Diego in 335 fewer attempts. Mathews is still the starting RB, but I expect Woodhead to be his primary backup. Brown combined for 88 carries over the last two seasons, and Woodhead had 76 alone in 2012.
I could see a scenario where Brown is San Diego’s goal line RB because he fits the role better than Mathews and Woodhead. Mathews has been fumble prone at times and Woodhead is best served as a rusher when San Diego is looking for a big play.
Woodhead missed San Diego’s first two preseason games with an undisclosed injury, which could explain why he is listed third on the depth chart. Woodhead made his debut against the Arizona Cardinals and finished that game with three rushing yards on one attempt.
There is a chance that Woodhead and Brown will be close in rushing attempts, but I expect Woodhead to have more carries. I also expect him to have more touches in general due to his ability to catch the football, which San Diego could use in passing situations.
San Diego’s four rushing touchdowns were tied for last with the Oakland Raiders in 2012. There were 29 players, including four quarterbacks, with more rushing touchdowns than San Diego as a whole in 2012, so this is obviously an area that needs to improve this season.
The Chargers ranked 31st in the NFL with an average of 3.6 yards per rushing attempt last year. Woodhead is coming off a season in which he averaged four yards per attempt, but he averages 4.8 yards per attempt in his career, which is another reason why I expect him to be Mathews’ primary backup this year.