Having covered Charles Woodson since he was drafted in 1998 until his career resurrection in Green Bay in 2006 and his return last year, I’ve come to a couple of realizations:
1) Woodson is the most charismatic athlete I’ve ever covered, not only because of his supreme confidence but because of the way he stands and delivers when things don’t go his way.
2) As a card-carrying skeptic, I’m looking for B.S. in any response. Woodson of course would never completely tell you everything what he thinks – you don’t violate the locker room in that way _ but neither will he follow the company line if it’s beyond the bounds of common sense.
In his 17th season, Woodson doesn’t talk to the media every day, nor should he. But Woodson did talk today, and here were some of the highlights:
On the possibility of the Raiders leaving Oakland
“I think it would be devastating. It’s happened once before and a lot of people are still bitter about that. I think this would be doubling down on that bitterness if they were to leave again. I think it’d be tough for the city of Oakland.”
On the Raiders shaky first-team pass defense vs. Matt Cassel and Matt Stafford:
“We’ve started those games slow and allowed teams to go down the field and put up points. As a defense, there’s something to read into it because we’ve got to be ready to play and not allow big plays or let teams march down the field. There’s a tiny bit of concern as far as that goes. But we feel confident about who we are as a team and what we’re going to be this season. We’re not circling the wagons or anything like that. We’re going to be all right.”
On coach Dennis Allen’s contention that you don’t read too much into a few early poor series by the defense in the preseason:
“You’ve got to read into it a little bit. We started those games slow and allowed teams to go down the field and put up points. As a defense, there’s something to read into it as far as that’s concerned because when we come, we’ve got to be ready to play and not allow big plays or allow a team to march down the field. There’s a tiny bit of concern as far as that goes. But we feel confident about who we are as a team and what we’re going to be during the season. We’re not circling the wagons or anything like that. We’re going to be all right.
“We’ve had some early drives when teams have sored, but it’s not like teams are just knocking us around. We’ve made a couple of mistakes that have allowed teams to score points, but we fe
Were still working. We’re still in training camp. When know we have a long way to go, but when we watch film, you know aht they say, its never as bad as yo think it is or never as good as you thini it s. We ve had some drivesd early in games where people have scored, but it’s not like teams are just knocking us around.”
The return of Tyvon Branch to the secondary:
“It’s been good. It’s great to have him back, just from the standpoint of a guy that missed a large part of last year and him being able to get out and play the game that he loves to play. It’s great to have him out there.”
The transition from being a corner to a true safety and the influence of secondary coach Marcus Robertson:
“I’m playing it different just because the position has been coached a great deal differently to me with guys that have come in, with M-Rob coming in. He’s got me to see the game in a whole different perspective. It’s been great for me to see it from a guy that played his position at a high level. It’s helped my game out tremendously. When I make the statement of playing like a corner … Playing on the outside, when the quarterback looks your way and he loads up to throw the ball, you’re breaking. But when you’re playing in the deep middle and the quarterback loads up to throw, he may not throw. That’s not my play to make anyway. I’ve got to wait for him to either look down field, or if he does throw it, I break and I help out whoever is in coverage. I am seeing the game a lot differently.”
Q: As a high draft pick, people see Khalil Mack go a couple of preseason games without doing much and wonder what’s going on. You were the fourth pick of the draft. Do you talk to him about being in that spotlight?
Not yet. I’ll have chances to talk to him, but it’s still early. As I said before, this is still training camp and he has a lot on his plate, not just from the standpoint of him being a high pick and everybody expecting that ‘wow’ factor out of him, but as far as the plays, knowing the positions and different things they have him doing, there is a lot expected of him in that sense too. You just allow him to grow as a player, as far as coming into camp and getting ready for his first pro season and let him go through a few of the growing pains. This guy is going to be OK, and I think the sky is the limit for him. We’ll have chances to talk throughout the season.”
On what Antonio Smith brings to the defense
I love having that guy around. Not only can he play, but just in the locker room, he is a bright spot. He keeps everybody light. He is a funny dude if you’ve ever been around him. I’m sure you guys have talked to him. He is just a great guy to have around. Watching him on film, he is as quick as anybody coming off that ball. He is a tough player. I can’t wait to see his celebration after a sack once the season comes around.”
Looking forward to playing Green Bay
“I don’t know if I am looking forward to playing against ‘A-Rod’ [Packers QB Aaron Rodgers], but it’ll be fun to go back in that stadium. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the visitor side going back there. There are still a lot of great friends of mine back in that area. So, it’ll be great to go in and line up out there in front of the Green Bay fans.”
The test the defense will face vs. Aaron Rodgers
“It’s the ultimate test. ‘A-Rod’ is the best quarterback in the league, in my eyes. Their offense has been explosive. I’ve seen it first hand for many years. It’ll be as tough as it gets, so it will be a great test for us going in there.
Thoughts on rookie cornerback TJ Carrie
“I like him. He’s a tough kid. He’s a smart kid. He’s going through the same learning curve as Mack is going through, but he’s a guy that we look at on film and he always seems to be in the right positions. He still has a lot to learn about the game, but as far as where he’s at right now, in my eyes and I’m assuming the coaches’ as well, he’s come along really good.”