Woodhead’s injury is NFL’s harsh reality

SAN DIEGO-Man down. Man up. That’s the approach the San Diego Chargers are taking these days with the rash of injuries the team has been hit with in the past month. They really don’t have a choice.

The Chargers can’t afford to wallow in a pity-party after watching Danny Woodhead exit San Diego’s first home game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium.

If the injury is as serious as it looked Sunday, Woodhead would be the team’s fourth offensive playmaker to go down for the season in a month’s time. That’s not good. If it turns out to be less than serious, that would be a minor miracle.

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy is having a wait-and-see approach to Woodhead’s injury.

“Danny’s got a knee injury and I just got done talking to the doctor, and he said they’re going to run some tests tomorrow (Monday),” McCoy said. “He didn’t have or he didn’t say this is exactly what it is. He said he wants to make sure before we say anything.”

Injuries are a fact of life for players in the NFL. It’s not a good fact, but it is a fact nevertheless. It’s a hard reality for teams to live with. The Chargers are not the only team dealing with this issue. Look at what’s happening around the league. Quarterbacks are dropping like flies.

San Diego Chargers running back/slot receiver Danny Woodhead in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars before being injured Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. Photo by Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline
San Diego Chargers running back/slot receiver Danny Woodhead in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars before being injured Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. Photo by Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline

Do the names of Robert Griffin III, Teddy Bridgewater, Tony Romo, and Jimmy Garoppolo ring a bell?

Injuries don’t discriminate. The Houston Texans have already lost linebacker Brian Cushing because of a malady. The Minnesota Vikings could now be down two key cogs for the season in their offense after running back Adrian Peterson absorbed a knee injury Sunday afternoon.

As a player in the National Football League, you are one serious injury away from finding a different line of employment. A crippling injury can end more than a career. Injuries can also alter the course of a franchise, whether for the season or for the future.

It is always a scary scene seeing a player being strapped to a gourney with arms interlocking with one another the way Jacksonville offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum did at the end of third quarter after sustaining a concussion during the Jaguars’ 38-14 loss to the Chargers.

Anyone who has watched football, especially at the professional level, have seen this picture being painted before. It doesn’t make any easier to watch when we see it unfold.

For McCoy and the Chargers, injuries have become an unwelcome visitor the past few seasons. In a minute, after seeing Woodhead being carted off the field in a game the Chargers played Sunday against the Jaguars, McCoy may want to give injuries a permanent boot out of town.

The Chargers have only played two games into the 2016 NFL season, and they’ve already several of their top playmakers for the year. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson went down in training camp with a knee injury.

Branden Oliver was taken out for the season thanks to an Achilles injury he suffered in a preseason game against the Vikings. Unfortunately for the Chargers, the hits keep coming.

In Game 1, wideout Keenan Allen lost his season with a torn ACL in the second quarter of the Chargers’ 33-27 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Now the Chargers could lose perhaps their best playmaker out of the backfield in Woodhead.

Losing Woodhead would be like quarterback Philip Rivers losing his right arm. He’s about as reliable as an old blanket somewhere stuffed in the closet, always there when Rivers and the Chargers need him. In 16 games last season, Woodhead caught 80 passes for 755 yards and led the offensive unit in the most reliable category.

That durability that Woodhead always seem to possess, despite his 5-foot-8 frame, went out of the window after his knee buckled when got sandwiched between two Jacksonville defenders.

It was not something McCoy nor Woodhead teammates wanted to see. When Allen went down last week, it immediately changed the focus of the team, said cornerback Casey Hayward. The Chargers blew a 24-3 third quarter lead in an eventual 33-27 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Hayward, who had two interceptions in the Chargers’ win against Jacksonville, stated that this time around the Chargers locked in on finishing the game after seeing Woodhead leave.

“In the second half I think we had a different mentality than last week,” Hayward said. “Last week, when Keenan went down, it hurt the team. This week, I feel like when Danny (Woodhead) went down, everybody was like, focus up. We know know somebody’s down, but we still have to play this game. I thought we did a better job this week of doing that.”

Top photo credit: San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead (39) being tackled by a Jacksonville Jaguars defender during the Chargers’ 38-14 win at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. Photo by Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline 

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1119 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.