Q: When you were signed, you were eagerly anticipating getting out there and meeting the new teammates and seeing how things were going. I’m just curious what your observations have been of the mandatory camp, the way the team is going about business, you’ve been with the Packers, a team that’s gone about their business and won a lot of games. What do you see here so far?
Woodson: Here, I really see a new attitude from where they’ve been previously. You’ve got a head coach who’s in his second year and he’s trying to establish that winning mindset around here. Defensively, we have a bunch of new guys in who weren’t here last year and don’t know about the troubles last year. So, bringing a lot of new guys in and just trying to set the tone for the guys out there on the practice field as far as our work ethic and making sure that every play you’re out there busting your tail and playing like you’re going to win every game because nobody is going to give us a shot this year to do anything. For us, if we come out and practice in a way that’s going to help us go out there and win games it won’t really matter what anybody else says. It will be about what we do out here on the field. I see Coach [Dennis] Allen coming out here and emphasizing that every day that it’s about this team and it’s going to be about how we work that’s going to determine how our season is going to be.
Q: Do you like being in that position that no one expects anything or does that even matter to you?
Woodson: For me, I’d rather be on a winning team, period. So for me, it doesn’t really matter the expectation parts of it. It doesn’t matter the record, for me. I’m going to play hard regardless, but you don’t want players that have been around here that haven’t won in a long time that had winning seasons and had the fan base excited about what you’re doing. You’ve got to establish that. For me, I’m going to come out here and play hard regardless, but you want everybody to have that same mentality.
Q: Who are the guys who helped you the most when you were with the Raiders and the Packers help you grow into this role where you’re the leader, the mentor?
Woodson: I just think that it’s just time. I think you’ve been around the game a long time now and seen just about everything the game can throw at you. I’m a little bit older now. You just see and do things differently. I think as you gradually get older within the game and the experience part of it, is the one thing that really helps you out. It’s not really one person in particular, it’s just the experience. I’ve done everything under the sun when it comes to being in the NFL, being an NFL player. So, for guys that I’m around, guys will ask me questions all the time and different things, and I’ve done it all. So, I’ll have some type of input about it. I think that’s kind of the thing that catapults you and to that leadership role is that the guys know that you’ve been through it, whatever it may be. It’s just time and being around and having done it and still being here and being around and being able to talk to guys.
Q: How do you create that chemistry, especially with so many new guys? Obviously it’s a time development, but is it communication? Is it trusting? What is it?
Woodson: I think, initially, myself for an example, guys want to see how you work. They want to know, what they want to see myself come in, going into my 16th year am I going to be a guy that wants to sit on the sideline all the time and let everybody else take all the reps? And that’s not me, and I think those guys see that. Now having been practicing here over the last couple weeks, I want to be out there on the field. I’m going to run to the football and I’m going to try to make every play that I can possibly make. And I think that part of it is the trust aspect of it. And then the communication part is knowing and knowing what you’re doing when you’re out there and being able to communicate with the other players and those players communicate back with you and everybody knows what you’re doing. And then once you that, that’s where the chemistry comes, and if we can do that as a team, we’ll be okay.
Q: How do you like sporting your old college number out there for a minute and how are negotiations going?
Woodson: You know, actually, the two looks very, very good. I remember coming out in ’98 and trying to petition to wear No. 2 and it didn’t happen. And maybe I’ll take another shot at it this time around. But the 24, I think it’ll eventually work itself out, so I’m not too worried about it right now.
Q: You got to pay a premium price for that?
Woodson: I’m really not trying to pay nothing but we’ll see what happens.
Q: You talk about 16 years and I’m thinking how many hits you’ve given, how many hits you’ve taken; is the physicality still something you accept and how do you prevent yourself from saying, ‘geez, I get so many hits to this body before eventually you hit that magic number of no more?’
Woodson: I don’t think you have a choice but to accept it. If you want to play, you want to be an integral part of the team. For me physically, I feel great. I don’t have any issues getting out of bed or anything like that. I really feel fresh coming out here and running around. When that time comes, I know I’ll feel it. I’ll have to make a decision, do I want to come out and continue to do it, but right now, it’s full speed ahead.
Q: You were drafted as a shut-down corner and, obviously, your role has changed dramatically from your time in Green Bay to here; what have you done to expand your knowledge of the game? How have you worked with your craft?
Woodson: You go from being a shut-down corner to just being a shut-down football player. That’s what I’ve always been, even though my role was to play corner, I was always just a football player. Those that have watched me over the years, I have always tackled. I’ve always done whatever I could out there on the field besides just playing against one guy. Then over the years, again, is to experience things that comes into play and the game starts to slow down for you the more you play the game. You know what to expect out there on the field. Then over the years I’ve learned how to better look at film and know exactly what I’m looking at. It’s not about spending a whole lot of time watching film, but it’s about looking at it and knowing exactly what you need to get out of it in order for you to be a better player. So, I’ve been able to do that now for a lot of years.
Q: No more reps at wide receiver?
Woodson: Haven’t got there yet, but let’s hold off on that for a little bit…
Q: You were never considered a film guy. I remember when you were first here and you purposely avoided too much of the film stuff; has that changed a little bit and how has that change come about?
Woodson: Yeah, it’s changed. Again, when I first came out we played man-to-man. The game was about not letting your guy catch the ball. So that’s what I had to do. A lot of times you followed the guy around and that was it, and if they weren’t throwing the ball to them, then really, what else could you do? But over time, being put in other positions, playing nickel, moving around, playing dime, playing some safety, you’ve got to see the game from different angles. So that’s what really egged me to get better at understanding formations, understanding situations, what teams like to do whether it’s in the red zone or backed up on their own 20. And it’s really helped me become a lot better player and make a lot more plays, which is of course a lot of fun. I look forward to doing a lot of that this year.
Q: Talk about developing chemistry, take me through the timeline.
Woodson: It’s been good. We have some players back there. Bringing in
Q: Now that you have this almost a month off, what do you do now during this month, maybe getting yourself moved here or acclimated or what kind of pace do you set for yourself now?
Woodson: Work. I work, and I work and prepare myself to be ready when training camp comes, so I can hit the ground running. So, I’ll go home and I’ll be home with my family, but a large part of it will be conditioning myself to the point to where if we had to play a game July 27, I could play July 27 and not have to come off the field. So that’s what I’ll do the next couple weeks.
Q: When you signed with the team, you were in OTA week 2, I don’t think anybody would have blamed you as a veteran even for not coming to the voluntary OTAs and certainly not blamed you if you would have sat back and watched as things unfolded instead of jumping into the fold. Why was it important to you to start practicing right away?
Woodson: You know what, it’s another fresh start for me, and I’ve been given an opportunity by the Oakland Raiders to come out here and be a part of this team, and I wanted to come out here and be around the team. I kind of dangled out there in free agency for a while and there was always the thought that I may be done if something doesn’t come up or a team doesn’t come calling. Oakland gave me the opportunity to come play here, and I wanted to be out here. I wanted to come out here and work with the guys, talking to the D-coordinator and knowing what the scheme was and what they were doing — I was very excited about that. So, I wanted to come out here and get those reps, especially mentally, going through all those checks and making sure that I’m staying ahead of the game once training camp comes around, so that’s what I wanted to do.
Q: Now you’re the same age as some of those assistant coaches and defensive coordinator; is there any time you go, ‘Son, let me tell you…?’
Woodson: Yeah, it’s weird. Well, actually, in Green Bay, Joe Whitt, our defensive backs coach, was younger than I was. But the thing is, with Joe, Joe knows what he’s talking about. So it’s easy to follow a guy or listen to a guy that knows what he’s talking about even though he may be younger, you’ve played in the NFL all these different years. So listening to the guys that I’m around now, they know what they’re talking about. It won’t be any issue.