Danny Woodhead Battles for a Spot

Newsday chronicles Danny Woodhead's fight to make the roster.

His workload began increasing in the spring, when Washington and fellow running back Thomas Jones were boycotting organized team activities (OTAs) because of contract squabbles. The experience was invaluable, considering Woodhead spent most of the 2008 season simply attending meetings while on injured reserve.

Throughout training camp, Woodhead has proven he can do multiple things. Whether it's pinballing his way between the tackles, catching a pass out of the backfield or lining up as a wide receiver, he's been getting his share of work with the reserves. He's also lining up on special teams and special teams coach Mike Westhoff will give Woodhead a shot to see where he fits in. "We think he can be a factor in a lot of different areas," Westhoff said.

Woodhead might have the best set of hands of anyone in the Jets' stable of running backs and his versatility should aid his bid to find a spot on the roster.

"He's trying to find his own role," Rex Ryan said. "He's out there. He works every day. Like I've said, he's got great hands. He's tough. We'll see how he does. The lack of size is going to hurt him in pass protection, but he's hard to cover. It's, 'Do you get him out on routes or do different things?' All I know is, he's as competitive as it gets and he has a chance to make our football team."

 

With three talented backs on the roster already, Woodhead has an uphill climb. Maybe I'm being too sentimental, but I'd still like to see the team find a spot for him on the roster. He's got 4.3 speed. Over the past few seasons, we've seen how productive speedy little backs can be from Darren Sproles to Maurice Jones-Drew to our own Leon Washington. He could be the kind of guy you can put all over the field and force defenses to account for. I'd love to see some packages with he and Leon Washington playing together. Woodhead could be a playmaker, and you can always use another playmaker.

I think there's only one avenue for Woodhead to make the team, though. If the Jets are going to keep four backs, the fourth guy has to be a major special teams contributor. A 5'7" 200 pounder is probably only going to have one way of contributing, the return game. Maybe the Jets are serious about making Leon Washington an integral part of the offense. Maybe they're serious enough about his role on offense to take him off the return team. It's a longshot considering how good he's been there, but the Bears reduced Devin Hester's return role when they moved him to receiver full time. That's the only way I see an opening for the Jets to utilize Woodhead's speed barring injury.

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