Report: Knee injury knocks out Woody

Updated: January 14, 2004, 8:37 PM ET
Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. -- New England Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody was listed as doubtful for the AFC championship game amid reports he will be out until next season with a knee injury.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick would not elaborate on the injury Wednesday, but the official injury report gives Woody a 25 percent chance of playing Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Russ Hochstein, who started one game this season at left guard, would start in Woody's place.

"We finished the game with Russ the last week, so that's probably where we'll start then this week," Belichick said.

Woody was hurt on the Patriots' first play against the Tennessee Titans last Saturday night and played intermittently in the 17-14 victory.

The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Woody had a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee that will not require surgery but will keep him out of Sunday's game and the Feb. 1 Super Bowl, if the team advances. Woody was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Asked about the injury Sunday, Belichick said, "If it was a broken leg, I'd tell you he had a broken leg. It's not a broken leg."

Hochstein has played 14 games this season, filling in on the offensive line.

"I'm a backup, so I'm just doing what I can and doing what's asked of me," he said. "I've filled in in a number of spots, so this is just part of the game for me."

New England's first pick in the 1999 draft out of Boston College, Woody made the Pro Bowl last season and began this one as the team's starting center. He missed the second game of the season with a knee injury and returned for Week 3 as the starting right guard. He missed the fourth game, then started the rest of the way as left guard.

The Patriots started a different offensive line in each of the first four weeks. Since then, though, they have had the same lineup every week and have won 13 consecutive games.

"Continuity on the offensive line is really important. It's about building up trust in the guys," center Dan Koppen said. "We've got trust in Russ any week when Russ is in there. The guys take their jobs seriously. The backups practice like they're going to take every snap."

Only left tackle Matt Light has started every game at the same position. Joe Andruzzi has also started every game -- 16 at right guard and one at left guard.

"We have 53 men in here. Nobody came here to take a backup role when they're called upon," Andruzzi said. "Koppen was called on in Week 2. He stepped in and did a great job. (Right tackle Tom) Ashworth, a week or two later. When called upon, you do your best.

"We're very confident in Russ. He's stepped in all year long," Andruzzi said. "It's going to be a little change, but it's not going to be a huge change."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE