A transcription from Monday’s media session with Raiders safety Charles Woodson, who was his usual honest and insightful self:
Q: Your thoughts on the offseason moves and how it’s carried over on the field for the last two weeks?
Woodson: I think overall it’s been a positive experience. Just being out there today I think the communication level between the guys, especially on the defensive side of the ball, has been intense. That’s the kind of thing you need when you have a lot of new guys coming in, playing in a different system, playing on a different team. It’s all about that communication. The new guys that we brought in, we have guys that know how to get it done. That’s the positive thing about it.
Q: How much better do you feel about this defense?
Woodson: I feel good about it, I really do. For me, I like to have a veteran presence. Bringing in guys like Tuck, bringing in guys like Woodley. Those are guys that know how to win and they know how to play the game of football. That’s the difference you see out there, especially defensively, is having guys out there that have won. They’ve won in this league and they’ve won the big one. Having guys out there like that, you have leaders on the team that guys can follow. That’s going to be important for us I feel really good about it.
Q: Make you feel younger to have other old guys here?
Woodson: Yeah man. For me, I feel like I’m getting younger out there anyway I feel good. Bringing in those guys brings in credibility. I look forward to playing with those guys this season.
Q: Look forward to playing with a healthy Tyvon Branch?
Woodson: Any time you get your guys back and get them back healthy you feel better about your chances, It will be great for him coming off the injury. You know he’s hungry. You miss time from this game, you get a chance to reflect on a lot of things. Having him back, having him be hungry as I know he is will be great for our defense.
Q: Having played more deep safety than ever last year, how much more comfortable in that role now in year two and can you still grow given your experience level?
Woodson: You have to. In this game if you’re not growing you’re not getting any better. I think having (secondary coach)Marcus Robertson here is going to help me a lot, a guy that’s played the position for a long time. He’s been an All-Pro at the position. Just the short time that he’s been here has really helped me out a lot to see things a lot differently. From the safety standpoint, there’s no question I’m going to get better. As far as moving around and being able to do different things, that will be up to the coaches, whether or not they want me to move around a little bit more. I definitely can. We’ll see how that progresses.
Q: A lot of guys here cast off from former teams is that extra motivation?
Woodson: No doubt about it. When I look at guys like Woodley and Tuck coming from other teams. I think most guys would like to play for the team that they were drafted to. Those guys came up in a situation where the team wanted them back but wanted them back on their terms. They had to make a decision do they comeback or do they move forward. I know those guys feel like they had much more value than what their previous teams thought they had. There’s no doubt about it those guys have some extra incentive to come in here to show that they are still great players in this league.
Q: Ever a doubt you’d be back here this season?
Woodson: You never know from year to year. It drug on a little longer than I wanted it to in the offseason. I wanted to get something done right away. Every team has priorities and I respect what they did in the offseason and the moves they made prior to me signing again. I was getting a little bit nervous sitting at home trying to figure out what was gonna happen. The reality was if it didn’t happen here that could have been it. Yeah, no doubt about it.
Q: Did you talk to other teams?
Woodson: No. I didn’t talk to anybody. My heart was set on coming back here. If that didn’t happen I would have had to weight those options whether or not something else could turn up. But my heart was set on coming here. But if it wasn’t here I don’t know.
Q: What are your first impressions of Khail Mack?
Woodson: Just his movements. Watching him a couple of times coming off the edge and he’s a guy that can, he can bend at the waist, he can get low, he can get under tackles if he is coming around the edge. He’s quick enough to where if he gets a guy in space coming off the edge he can make movements in or out and go either way. He seems to be put together pretty well. We know he has some strength. I’ve just seen him a little bit. It will be great to see him in action when it really goes down. We all have high hopes for him because he’s only gonna make us better as a team. I look forward to playing alongside him.
Q: With veteran guys who can see the ceiling, what is the ceiling of this team?
Woodson: There ain’t no ceiling. We’re trying to bust through the ceiling. I look at the team and I feel like I have what I need from a team standpoint to get all the way there. Now, does that happen? Nobody knows until that time comes, but we’ve got players in there. If we all focus in, all our goals at the end of the season will be there.
Q: Thinking you might be done, will you stop and smell the roses a little bit?
Woodson: I think every year you kind of stop and smell the roses once you get past a certain point. But I’m looking at the team, and just going off of how I feel health-wise, I’m not looking at this being the last year. But of course I’m going to enjoy every moment of it at the same time. Like I said, you never know how it’s going to turn out. Again, what they’ve done here this offseason, the guys they’ve brung in, guys that they drafted, we’re going to be a good team. If that means playing this year and beyond, of course I’d be open to it.
Q: Dennis and Reggie have said they felt they brought in a top 10 quarterback in this league, what’s been your observations of Schaub and how he’s seized the offense? Is he the guy that can get you there?
Woodson: I think he can. I think for a lot of the guys, it’s coming in and having a fresh start and I kind of get that sense from him that this is how he looks at it. He had a good run there, he had some good years there in Houston , but this is a fresh start for him and I think he’s anxious to of course go out there and prove the naysayers wrong, because a lot of people are down on him because of last season and what happened. But I think we realize, as players, this organization, that one bad year doesn’t make anybody a bad player. You can have those types of years. I know what he’s done in this league. He’s thrown for a lot of yards in this league and I think we have some weapons around him here. Adding the competition that we have on our offensive line, guys that can protect him, having D-Mac back, having MJD here, bringing in a James Jones, you have some guys around him that can make him better and that’s how we see it.
Q: How long before MJD came up and asked you about your Superman tackle . . .
Woodson: He just let me know, that’s why he joined, so he didn’t have to deal with that Superman tackle any more.
Q: Impressions of DJ Hayden last week after rough rookie year?
Woodson: I know he’s, I think of him like I think of Tyvon, a guy that missed a lot of time and is anxious to get back. You know he’s much stronger. He’s been in the weight room, handling his business that way. From that standpoint, from a corner standpoint, you’ve got to be in the game. How much better has he gotten as a player? That we won’t know until things start really happening that way during the season. But like I say, nobody’s going to feel sorry for a guy who was a top pick in the draft, so he’s going to have to come in and prove himself beyond offseason.
Q: Do you have a sense that experience is undervalued in the NFL?
Woodson: I think in any league. I think the Spurs were undervalued, but look at them. They have an older team but they’re playing for the whole thing again. I think it is (undervalued), I think, I look at the NFL every team wants to get younger, they push a lot of the older guys out, guys who can still play the game. I don’t think there’s any question that it’s undervalued. So it’s going to be our job, especially from guys like myself, Woodley and Tuck, to show that, hey, m an, our best days are not behind us just because other people say our best days are behind us. We’re going out there to play good football and win games, and that’s what we intend to do.
Q: Would you be Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli?
Woodson: I don’t know, that’s a good question.
Q: Tim Brown had said hey this is what the Raiders did when they were good, bringing in veterans like, Romanowski, and Jerry Rice, etc. . . .blended with young players . . . parallel?
Woodson: Yeah, absolutely. I see a lot of similarities in it. He’s exactly right. And I think the veteran guys that they’ve brought in have been veteran guys in key positions. I keep saying Tuck and Woodley, but what I think about our team and what we need, we need pass rushers, we need guys that can get to the quarterback. Bringing in Antonio Smith, bringing Pat Sims back, and guys like that. We’ve brought in good, quality player and guys that can play football. I can’t stress it enough, the way our communication was on the field out there today, you can tell you’ve got guys that have been in the game before that know how to win and know what it takes to win.
Q: Anyone jump out as far as the rookies in the secondary, you’ve got two corners and a safety?
Woodson: Not yet, not yet. It’s still way too early. We’ve got to wait until this game gets real out there.