Woodhead scored on an 8-yard run in his first game since September and the Chargers, whose owner has angered fans by exploring a move to Los Angeles, beat the Dallas Cowboys 17-7 on Thursday night in an exhibition opener.
Woodhead scampered through a big hole provided by the rebuilt line to cap San Diego's first drive and give the Chargers a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. He suffered a season-ending broken right ankle in the third game last year.
"It felt great," he said. "It's been a long process. I feel really good. The line blocked great. It was great to get out there and get in the end zone."
Said quarterback Philip Rivers: "It was awesome. He knows how I feel about him and how the team feels about him after last year."
The game was played two days after Carmen Policy, who is spearheading stadium efforts in Carson, told NFL owners that "the Chargers and Raiders are committed to Los Angeles." The Chargers, owned by the Spanos family, walked away from negotiations for a new stadium in San Diego in mid-June and are focusing on trying to move to Carson along with the archrival Oakland Raiders.
"I think the stuff we need to work on is obvious," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "It's about the ball, the ball, the ball. We didn't take care of it there."
The Cowboys tied it at 7 when undrafted rookie Gus Johnson scored on a 5-yard run early in the second quarter. Johnson, looking to prove he can make it after the top three candidates to replace NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray were hurt, left with a shoulder injury in the third quarter.
Coach Jason Garrett said he thinks it's a separated shoulder.
"He was taking advantage of his reps," Garrett said. "That was a good opportunity for him with three other backs not playing in the ballgame."
San Diego went ahead 14-7 when Branden Oliver scored on a 10-yard run just before halftime.
San Diego's Nick Novak kicked a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon, the 15th pick overall in the draft, carried six times for 11 yards. LB Denzel Perryman, the second-round pick, was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness for a hit on QB Dustin Vaughan.
Cowboys: Backup Branden Weeden was 4 of 5 for 42 yards. Dustin Vaughan was 12 of 18 for 106 yards and Jameill Showers was 5 of 11 for 40 yards.
Cowboys: The Cowboys should know Friday how long Johnson will be out.
Chargers: D.J. Fluker started at right guard after playing the last two seasons at right tackle.
Cowboys: TE Gavin Escobar was targeted a game-high seven times and had five catches for 47 yards with a long of 21.
Chargers chairman Dean Spanos, son of owner Alex Spanos, wasn't on the sideline watching pregame warmups as he usually is. Spanos has been kept under wraps during the contentious stadium push while others speak on his behalf.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Goodell explains NFL's stance on Watson investigation
Roger Goodell details why the NFL has not stepped in to make a decision on Deshaun Watson's playing status with 22 civil lawsuits filed against the Texans quarterback.
NFL's investigation into Washington Football Team won't be released, commissioner Roger Goodell says amid pressure
The NFL commissioner said Tuesday that "protecting those who came forward" would keep the league from releasing its investigation into the workplace culture of the Washington Football Team, despite continued calls for the league to do so.
NFL doesn't yet have enough information about Deshaun Watson lawsuits to make decision, commissioner Roger Goodell says
Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Tuesday the NFL doesn't yet have enough information about the lawsuits filed against Houston's Deshaun Watson for inappropriate sexual behavior to make a decision on potential discipline.
Goodell on Dan Snyder: 'I do think he's been held accountable'
Roger Goodell answers if he thinks Washington owner Dan Snyder has been held accountable for the team's workplace misconduct.
Los Angeles Chargers cut struggling kicker Tristan Vizcaino, sign veteran Dustin Hopkins
Dustin Hopkins was signed as the Chargers kicker on Tuesday after the team waived Tristan Vizcaino.
Senior Bowl to provide performance coaches for prospects, survey to help teams ID leadership traits
The Senior Bowl has partnered with he Tatnuck Group in a two-pronged process to help both prospects and teams throughout the week of the All-Star event.