After an impressive but all-too-brief Ravens debut in the 2017 opener, running back Danny Woodhead has been activated from injured reserve and is set to play against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Signed to a three-year, $8.8 million contract in March to give quarterback Joe Flacco a boost in the short passing game, Woodhead re-injured his left hamstring on the first offensive drive of the season in Cincinnati on Sept. 10. He was placed on IR a few days later, but his three catches for 33 yards on only six snaps offered a glimpse of what the Ravens envision him adding to the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing game.
Since entering the NFL in 2009, Woodhead is one of four players — Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and Darren Sproles being the others — to produce at least 15 rushing touchdowns and 15 receiving touchdowns.
“He just gives us a shot in the arm. He gives us some juice, some energy,” said safety Eric Weddle, who teamed with Woodhead for three seasons in San Diego. “He’s a guy that creates matchups, not only in the running game, but also in the passing game. It gives Joe another weapon when things may not be open. He can just always check it down or see the matchup.
“The thing with ‘Woody’ is there are not many linebackers or safeties in this league that can cover him. When you know you have that matchup, you get him the ball and let him work.”
Having averaged 9.4 yards per catch in a nine-year career that included stints with the New York Jets, New England, and the Chargers, Woodhead has been a difference-maker as a receiver out of the backfield, but injuries have taken their toll in recent years. The 32-year-old has missed 35 games over the last four seasons, a reason why the Ravens used extra caution in bringing him back from a hamstring injury first sustained during the preseason.
Third-year running back Buck Allen has primarily filled in for Woodhead in passing situations and currently leads the team with 39 receptions, but his 4.8 yards per catch average ranks last among 149 qualified players, according to ESPN. Woodhead is also considered to be an asset in pass protection, a skill that shouldn’t be overlooked as the offensive line is expected to be without starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Sunday.
Woodhead is the second Baltimore player to be activated from IR this season, joining cornerback Maurice Canady. The Ravens are not allowed to bring back any other players from IR for the remainder of the 2017 season.
To make room for Woodhead on the 53-man roster, the Ravens waived tight end Gavin Escobar, who was signed in late October and did not record a catch in two games.