‘Role’ call: All Patriots have to be ready to go

Danny Woodhead's role in the game plan is always "week-to-week."

There are 46 active Patriots players per game, each one just as important as the next.

That’s the mentality that each player on the team has – from Tom Brady on down. Regardless of who starts or who gets more snaps, each player has to be ready to do one thing at a moment’s notice: their job.

We saw a prime example of this last Sunday against the Texans. Patriots running back Danny Woodhead went down with a thumb injury early in the game, and in came Shane Vereen, who had previously taken a backseat to both Woodhead and Stevan Ridley.

New England didn’t miss a beat. In fact, Vereen shined as he rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown while hauling in five receptions for 83 yards and two more scores, including a 33-yard beauty down the sideline.

“Well, I think that’s the way our entire team has to look at this game,” Bill Belichick said. “Everybody’s got to be ready to go. You’re one play away from doing different things than you thought you’d be doing … The role could change. We only have so many guys out there, so we’ve got to double up. Something that could happen during the game could thrust somebody else right into the spotlight, so to speak.”

While Woodhead looks to return against the Ravens, Rob Gronkowski is out for the remainder of the postseason after breaking his left arm again. But that won’t cause Brady to hesitate in throwing to his other targets.

“When people trust each other, then you can play with anticipation and confidence and ultimately go out there and play aggressively,” Brady said. “There’s really no secret to it.”

That trust you see on the field doesn’t just happen. It’s built through long hours on the field and in the film room. Of course, it all comes down to buying in to the “Patriot Way.”

“If you want to be a good football team, you’ll never be stuck in rush hour traffic” Jerod Mayo said. “You are the first one here and the last one to leave. I think guys really buy into that, guys that come from other teams, I think they follow the lead of the bulk of this team and it has worked well here.”


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