The Patriots offensive line depth took an unexpected hit Thursday afternoon when rookie Dustin Woodard, 22, decided to retire, according to a league source.
Additionally, the club released rookie defensive end Nick Coe, per a league source.
The decision by Woodard, the last of the team’s 10 draft picks in April, had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. The seventh-rounder simply decided to walk away after he had a diminished desire to keep playing.
Woodard was projected to be in the mix to earn a backup job on the interior, center or guard.
A rugged 6-foot-2-inch, 291-pounder, Woodard tied the Memphis record for games played with 54. He offered tremendous versatility during his college days, playing left guard for two seasons (2016 and ’17), right guard for a year (2018), and center as a senior in 2019.
Woodard’s decision leaves Hjalte Froholdt and Tyler Gauthier as the likely candidates to backup center David Andrews.
Coe was an undrafted rookie out who was projected as a first-rounder heading into 2019 after posting 13.5 tackles for a loss in 2018. He struggled with consistency last season, however, and fell off draft boards.
The 6-5, 291-pounder finished his career at Auburn with 71 tackles and nine sacks.
New England’s signing of Lamar Miller became official and the running back, who tore his ACL last summer, was placed on the PUP list. He is eligible to come off at any time but can’t practice until he does.