Patriots Rookie Center Dustin Woodard Retires Before First Pro Game

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New England Patriots rookie Dustin Woodard ended his pro football career before it could begin.

Woodard, a center/guard out of Memphis drafted in the seventh round this past spring, retired from the NFL on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Jim McBride of The Boston Globe was the first to report Woodard’s decision, which reportedly was not related to COVID-19.

“(Woodard has) simply decided to walk away,” NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero reported.

Woodard started 52 games as an interior lineman in college and was expected to compete for a roster spot behind starting center David Andrews this summer. New England added depth at the position Wednesday by signing center Tyler Gauthier, a former Patriots practice squadder.

The Patriots, who held their first non-padded training camp practice Wednesday, also waived undrafted rookie defensive end Nick Coe on Thursday. Coe showed potential and versatility early in his college career at Auburn but entered the NFL with character concerns following a tumultuous and unproductive final season with the Tigers.

New England now has four open spots on its 80-man roster.

UPDATE (5:25 p.m. ET): Woodard officially has been placed on the NFL’s reserve/retired list.

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