He didn’t tell a soul outside Buffalo’s locker room, but Robert Woods had no explosiveness to his game in 2015 after tearing his groin on both the left and right side. The fact that he played through that injury for about half the season is hard to fathom knowing the demands of his position when it comes to cutting, twisting, changing direction and leaping.
Following offseason surgery and a length rehab process, Woods is a different player, a unique player.
Woods has always been a solid receiver off the line. Though not a physically imposing receiver at 6-0 and 190 pounds, Woods is crafty at getting clean releases at the start of his routes. What was demonstrably different about his game in the spring practices was how quick and sudden he was off the line of scrimmage at the snap. It is a dramatic step up in explosiveness for Woods and it’s a significant enhancement to his personal game.
“His drive phase is one of the best on the team,” said Lal. “He comes off every ball like he’s running a go route. He’s really gotten a good job of holding that longer in his routes at break, he’s in and out of his cuts. The best I’ve seen him. Again, I’m proud of him because he had the surgery, and I said, ‘Promise me you’ll go run with a track coach. Go on the track and run.’ And he did, and it’s showing here.”
“Being back at USC I got back on the track just to get back to my playing speed,” Woods said. “Speed is the most important part of this game. I’m getting my stride back and I’m feeling very explosive. I felt like I lacked that last year with the injury and I didn’t want it impact me again this year. So I wanted to try to open back up and be an explosive receiver.”
In the 21 games over the past two years where Woods has seen five-plus targets, he has played at a 70-755-3.8 pace, which are solid WR4 numbers in PPR formats. Now that he's fully healthy, he could be primed for a mini-breakout (especially if Sammy Watkins' foot injury lingers longer than expected). Remember, at 24 years-old, he's quite young for a fourth-year receiver.