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Danny Woodhead Enthused for 2015 Return
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The San Diego Chargers notoriously suffered a long litany of injuries in 2014, but few impacted the club on as many levels as losing Danny Woodhead early in Week 3.
With his nonstop hustle, clutch playmaking ability and inspirational leadership, the gritty running back quickly established himself as a favorite both in the locker room and among fans. Just how much he meant to the team was crystalized when an emotional Head Coach Mike McCoy announced he was out for the season.
That time has come, and Woodhead remained true to his word. Now, perhaps no Charger is looking forward to Monday’s start to the offseason program more than the 5-8, 200-pound running back.
“I feel really, really good,” he said, flashing his trademark grin. “I really do. As far as the injury goes, that is something I’m not even thinking about. I’m thinking about trying to get better. I’m focusing on working on what I can do to be better than I was last year. Obviously I wasn’t able to play a lot of games, so I should say I want to be better than I was that first season here.”
His first season was certainly memorable as he had a career year in 2013. Woodhead took San Diego by storm as a jack-of-all-trades out of the backfield, setting new career highs with 76 catches, 605 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He led all NFL running backs in touchdown receptions and ranked second in both catches and receiving yards. The former Chadron State star also ran for 429 yards and two scores for a total of 1,034 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns. Including 262 kickoff return yards, he established another career-high with 1,296 all-purpose yards.
It is easy to get down on oneself after such a debilitating injury, but that is not the type of player, or person, that defines Danny Woodhead.
“It’s kind of crazy, because I was frustrated obviously, but I called my wife and found a peace about it. I think that is probably due to my faith and relationship with God. So at the time, even though I got hurt, I felt very blessed. Yeah, it’s an injury, but there are so many things that could be worse. If that is the worst thing that happens to me, and I have an injury with season ending surgery, I am unbelievably blessed that this is what I am doing. I got hurt doing what I love, so overall I just felt blessed. That seems weird and is really twisted, but I feel for some reason it happened in my life and God never gives you more than he can handle. He is going to take care of you, and I really feel that way.”
Just because he found peace with it doesn’t mean it’s been an easy road back. Everyone knows Woodhead passionately wears his heart on his sleeve. Having had nearly the entire 2014 campaign taken away from him only increased his love of the game.
“It’s been a long process,” he admitted. “But definitely it makes you hungrier when the game is taken away. It makes you realize how blessed you are to play it. Not that I didn’t understand that before, but when it is taken away for such a long amount of time, it makes you even hungrier. You miss being out there with your brothers. I’m excited for this season. I’m always excited, but my mentality might even be younger and hungrier than ever before.”
So is that why Woodhead is more excited than ever for Monday’s start of Phase I?
“Oh heck yeah!” he said. “I mean, I look forward to it every year because it is being back with the guys. There is so much that is put in to building a team, and you want to reach the playoffs and the Super Bowl. The offseason is very crucial. So I am always excited, but when you’ve been out for a little bit longer, you 100% look forward to it more. I’ve always said I look forward to everything that we do, but this is more excited than I’ve ever been.”
It’s clear that Woodhead has had this date circled on his calendar for months. Still, while he has worked hard to get back to 100%, his priority remains being the best husband and father he can be when away from the game.
“(My offseason) has been a lot of working out, and earlier was a lot of rehab. Now it is just getting ready. Now it is ‘Hey, let’s go be a player.’ So I’ve had that end, but I also have the ‘daddy’ side, and the ‘go be a husband’ side. At the end of the day, I am foremost a husband and a father, and hopefully I am excelling at that even more than as a football player.”
Everywhere he’s gone, Woodhead has been inundated with support from the fans. Even though he has only suited up in 19 regular season games as a Charger, their response has been overwhelming.
“These fans have been great from the moment I got here. I feel very blessed with the reception I’ve been given. My family and I enjoy it; it’s awesome. I’m just excited to go into year three.”
Perhaps the most famous Woodhead fan is one of Twitters highest regarded NFL follows– the satirical PFTCommenter. The account has gleaned cult status, partially due to his unabashed fandom for Woodhead. So what does the running back think of his number one fan?
“I actually finally followed him because people kept tweeting at me about him!” he said with a laugh. “Every time I looked at what he said I thought it was hilarious. It’s funny the stuff people say, and he is a prime example of what is great about social media. He says some funny stuff, and he gets some good stuff at me. I think it is hilarious. I mean, there are certain people and things you don’t want to read at all on social media, but then there are things like what he says about me. And he’s funny. I read it and kind of grin, and even though I am sitting there by myself, I look at my phone and say, ‘Yeah, that is kind of funny.’ So I do find it fun. He doesn’t do anything that is crazy with me, so I think he is funny and I like looking at his stuff.”
More than anything, Woodhead is just happy to be back on the field, and predicts big things for the Bolts in 2015. That includes playing a pivotal role in a running back stable that includes Branden Oliver and Donald Brown.
“We’ve got a pretty awesome room,” he said. “We’re selfless guys who just want to work hard. We are not concerned with who gets more touches. We just hope at the end of the day as a unit we do well. That is what it is about. This is a team game; it’s not a me game. Of course everyone wants to be around for a long time, which is totally understandable. It’s your career. But we’ve got a very selfless group and a selfless coach in Ollie (Wilson). I think that is the best part of our room. We will be there for each other and be each other’s biggest cheerleaders."
Woodhead has also taken note of the revamped offensive line since the last time he played. Orlando Franklin and Chris Watt have been added to a burly line that also includes King Dunlap, D.J. Fluker and Johnnie Troutman.
“Orlando is a big dude and King can be considered a big guy too, I guess,” he joked. “But really, the line is obviously an important part of the offense. It’s an important part of the defense, too. Being an offensive player, you love to have those big guys. But more important, we have a lot of great guys that want to work together to be a cohesive unit. That is what you want. Plus, we have a great coach in Joe (D’Alessandris), and he will get the job done. We are just excited about what we can do. Obviously we just have to put the work in and see what happens from there. But we are excited about it.”
“Obviously I noticed it and I heard their reactions. I hope they think I am a good player, but I think, and hope, it is the relationships I built and the type of person I am. Now I don’t know if that is what they think, but I am hoping so. At the end of the day when everything is said and done, I want people to remember me for my football. I definitely do. But I also want people to remember the type of teammate and friend that I am. Being the best teammate I can be is something I work very hard at. To be the best friend possible and guy to be around. That is what I remember about guys I played with, so hopefully I have the same impact.” Read