Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/6/13
You resisted making the comparison because it had seemed too easy. But then the little man in the Chargers uniform lined up in the slot and the defense made the decision to stick a linebacker on him and the little man ran past that linebacker and caught a perfect pass in stride in the end zone. And you had no choice but to exclaim “Philip Rivers has his Sproles back!” We can finally let go. When Darren Sproles has a game like he did Monday night for the New Orleans Saints – two touchdowns 142 yards from scrimmage -- we can now simply appreciate it rather than curse A.J. Smith. Danny Woodhead is a Charger lining up every which way doing everything you’d think a mini man could not – maybe not quite the same thing as Sproles but closer than the Chargers have had or even thought they’d ever have again. Not since Sproles was allowed to leave following the 2010 season has Rivers had this kind of outlet. And it's no coincidence Woodhead's arrival has been followed by Rivers' revival. That was apparent even before Woodhead caught two touchdown passes and totaled 86 yards between his rushes and receptions against the Dallas Cowboys a little more than 24 hours before Sproles’ big night against the Miami Dolphins. That convergence however was simply an authentication. The similarities are so remarkable you almost don’t want to remark on them – possibly more than anything because it feels diminishing to talk about how Woodhead is 5-foot-8 (maybe) and 200 pounds while Sproles is 5-6 (not quite) 190. “The comparisons I understand” Woodhead said. “For people to mention it it’s flattering. I’m trying to do what I can with my skill set and do it to the best of my ability.” Woodhead is not the athlete and is not as fast as Sproles. But he is as physical and elusive and every bit the football player and he has proven to be just about as dangerous. “The No.1 thing both of them have is they’re really smart” said Chargers running backs coach Ollie Wilson who coached Sproles in his final three seasons as a Charger. “When you’re doing something outside one time inside one time backfield one time that’s the first thing you’ve got to be because you have to be able to handle all that stuff.” Woodhead has so far actually been a version of Sproles that we only imagined. It is true that the bulk of Sproles’ six seasons in San Diego were spent in the LaDainian Tomlinson era but even in 2009 when Tomlinson was injured and ’10 after Tomlinson had departed Sproles did not routinely touch the ball as much as Woodhead has so far. Only seven times as a Charger did Sproles have 12 or more offensive touches in a game. Woodhead has touched the ball 12 times in two of his four games as a Charger. He had 10 touches this past Sunday.
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