Free safety Charles Woodson is a man without a jersey number right now. However, he’s always got something insightful to say. So, here’s the transcript of a news conference with Woodson after Tuesday’s practice in Alameda, his first time in a Raiders uniform since the 2005 season.
Q: How does it feel to be back with the Raiders?
A: “I almost feel important sitting up here. It feels good. It really does. It feels good to put the silver and black back on. It’s been a long time. I look good in silver and black, so it feels good to be back.”
Q: Are you more of a leader by example or are you more vocal?
A: “For the most part, I’m a lead-by-example type of guy. I’m always of the mind-set I don’t want to go around any coaches and what they coach, what they do. But when there’s an opportunity to step in and give some input on whatever that may be, then I’ll do that and, like I said, not try to step on anybody’s toes because that’s not my intention, of course, to do that. Wherever there’s a possibility to help a guy, whether he’s young or old, it doesn’t really matter, then absolutely.”
Q: What’s up with the blank jersey?
A: “I can’t find a number, Man. Everything is taken. So, moving forward, we’ll try to get that worked out but right now, I’m just Blank Man.”
Q: Going to negotiate to get your No. 24 back?
A: “Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m going to have to do. It wasn’t waiting for me at my locker, so I’ll have to negotiate that, for sure.”
Q: Did you meet D.J. Hayden last week?
A: “No, I haven’t had that opportunity yet. So, I’m really not sure what’s going on. I look forward to getting a chance to meet him. So, hopefully that situation works itself out, and he can get back here and do what I know he loves to do.”
Q: How can your confidence transfer to your teammates?
A: “Well, for me, it’s all about my approach to the game, the way I play, the way I practice. That will really show itself, the way I prepare. I’ll always prepare as if I’m the best player on the field. Once that’s no longer the case, I’ll see it, I’m sure everybody else will see it too. At that point, it’s up to the next guy to move forward. I’m just going to come in and do what I know how to do, and that’s be a great football player. So, I plan on doing that going forward.”
Q: What can you tell folks about Matt Flynn?
A: “Yeah, Flynn had a chance to work around a great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers a bit, sit behind him, just kind of emulate some of the things that Aaron does without trying to be like Aaron. So, he’ll bring some experience, even though he hasn’t had a chance to lead a team. I know that I’m sure the coaches are excited to have him in here and giving him that opportunity to lead this team. I just look forward to seeing him grow. He’ll have the opportunity to be the guy. At that point, it’s what do you do with it. Hopefully he’ll succeed.”
Q: What feels different about being back here?
A: “Oh, man, really the only difference is the big guy is not here. That’s really it. Knowing that you’re not going to see him coming out on to the field at any point in time this season is really the different feeling to this organization. But I know that the organization is in good hands with Mark taking over and bringing in Reggie to come in here and try to get the Raiders back on the right track. So, in that sense, it feels good and there’s definitely a positive feel to it.”
Q: What did they tell you about their vision that helped you re-sign here?
A: “Well, just talking to Reggie and coach D.A., I was really sold on the fact that they believe on the guys that they have here. Of course, you can always use more and as the years come up, they’ll be able to do some more things. But they really have a lot of faith in the guys that they have on the roster right now. Who knows what this team will be at the end of the season, but I was convinced that this team will compete, this team will be in games, and we look forward to going out there and wearing the silver and black proudly. These guys, I’m looking forward to playing with them and trying to get back to where the Raiders should be.”
Q: Know anything about Tyvon Branch when you were in Green Bay?
Woodson: Yeah, we always watch players around the league. He’s a guy that, he always shows up somewhere. He’s a tough, hard-nosed football player. A lot of speed. Can cover a lot of ground. He’ll come up and stick his nose, stick his face in the play. He’s a guy that I look forward to playing with, and a guy that I think is emerging as one of the leaders on the team, so I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with him and playing alongside of him. I think the sky’s the limit for him.
Q: Terms of scheme, what it was like before, man-to-man corners, safeties normal role, four-man role . . . how different is that what looking at now?
Woodson: It’s a lot different. I mean, you just stated it. I mean, we were to be man-to-man corners, and that’s what it was. You went on the outside, the other corner went to the other side and you played man-to-man. You had a single high safety, and that’s pretty much what you did. There wasn’t a whole lot to it. This defense will give you some variations and give you some opportunities to make some plays, give you some different looks, and not just be in a single high safety look. That’ll be fun, and for me, being a guy that I feel like I have a nose for the football, it’ll be a lot of fun to go out there and be a part of this defense and try to make it click.
Q: Flynn 2-0 with Packers, did he make it easy for guys to have confidence in him?
Woodson: Yeah, I mean, we always felt he could do it. But the game of football is the same for everybody. You’ve got to get out there in a game, and you’ve got to get a feel for it. The opportunities that he got, he made the most of ‘em, and he gave people a look at what he could do. That’s the reason why he was picked up in Seattle, even though he wasn’t the guy there, but people seen enough of him, that they brought him here, so I’m sure the staff has a lot of confidence in him that he’ll emerge as the guy, and help lead this franchise.
Q: What about Jason Tarver as a defensive coordinator?
Woodson: Well, I mean, he’s a young coach and he’s just trying to implement his defense. And that’ll take some time. He’s got a lot of new faces, a lot of new guys. The most important thing about trying to implement your defense really is communication. It really won’t matter as far as the talent level is concerned, but if you can communicate and guys know where they’re supposed to be, a lot of the other stuff won’t matter, because you’ll be in position to make plays, make tackles, keep people out of the end zone and that sort of thing. The more and more we work together, I think the defense is a defense where it’s not going to confuse you. Guys should pick it up fairly quickly and we should be able to hit the ground running.
Q: Did you get a chance to talk with Al Davis at any point?
Woodson: Man, I haven’t talked to Al Davis since I left. That’s one of the things I look back on, when I didn’t do when I left, was really have a conversation with him when I left the Raiders. Didn’t get a chance speak with him, and I wish I had.
Q: What kind of effort did Raiders make to keep you when you left here?
Woodson: Yeah, it was pretty much done. I know my agents talked to the organization a few times, but as far as me, there was really no communication. It was kind of, I guess, the writing on the wall that he’s no longer going to be a Raider, and I went my way, and the Raiders of course went their way. It wasn’t much at all.
Q: Did you ever think you’d be back?
Woodson: No, no. No, but I guess that’s the way life works. I never thought I’d go to Green Bay and ended up in Green Bay and had an incredible run there, and free agency came around and I thought I would be somewhere else fairly quickly, and that didn’t happen, and free agency just kind of rolled on, and found myself talking to myself and saying, regardless of where I play, I want to play football. I don’t want to just be done playing the game. That’s when the opportunity arose to come out here and play football, and that’s what happened.
Q: How’s your health?
A: I feel great. Other than having the collarbone and last year and then the Super Bowl year which were setbacks of course. Other than that I don’t have any aches and pains anywhere or anything. My shoulder has healed up well now. I look forward to going out there and playing football the way I always have.
Q: What was it like with fans last week?
A: It was a great feeling. I was here eight years and we had some ups and downs but we had some great years. I know what it’s like to have this fan base behind you. That’s a big deal. There’s a lot of energy here. A lot of these guys don’t know that, they don’t know that feeling to be that type of team here and have the fans behind you. To have the fans here at the facility last week welcoming me back meant a lot and I appreciate Raider Nation for that.
Q: Talk to Mark Davis yet?
A: I have not. I haven’t seen Mark in years. I’m sure since I left in 05-06. It’s been a long time. Haven’t really been around him since that point. There’s only one Al Davis though. I’m sure that it’s probably a lot different in that respect.
Q: Thoughts on tuck rule gone?
A: What were they waiting on? That was a happy day. It was a happy day Finally they got it done. My thing is too bad it couldn’t be retroactive.
Q: Where is this team at in the rebuilding process?
A: That’s really hard to say. This is a fairly young team. When I came in we had Tim Brown and guys like that, some veterans that had been around for a while. Hadn’t won a lot of games but then we got a new coach in Jon Gruden at that time and they brought in a new system so things slowly started to come together during those first couple of years. Here this is my first time going out there running around with the guys out there on the field. What I can say is there is a lot of energy out there just from the first initial practice. As far as defensively. The defense is one that guys will gravitate toward fairly quickly and pick it up to the point where when we go out there in games there’s not a lot of indecision. We’ll be able to go out there and play football and have fun doing it. If you’re doing that then you’ll win some games.
Q: Ever talk about going back to GB?
A: The conversation when it happened was fairly quick. It was ‘we thank you for your time here. We feel like it’s time for us to go our way and you go your way.’ That was it. I really didn’t have any thoughts of it. When free agency first started I thought I’d be on a team pretty quickly and wouldn’t even have time to think about it. It really didn’t cross my mind much I guess. I figured it was what it was. You got to move on.
Q: What do you say to those surprised you signed here?
A: I don’t think they understood the fact that I spent more time here than anywhere else. If I got past Denver and didn’t sign there that if I got here it was going to be pretty tough for me to leave being that this is like a second home to me as well. Drafted here, spent eight years here. I had great years here. We had a lot of ups and downs but I loved it here. I still have people I consider family here. It was going to be hard to come here, sit down with Reggie and DA. Just being in this building, seeing the fans at the gate coming in. It was going to be hard to leave I don’t think people understood that.