Woodson's impact on Raiders will be felt after retirement
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Charles Woodson was unable to lead the Raiders back to the playoffs in his second stint in Oakland.
But if the Raiders manage to get back to the postseason after Woodson retires, he will deserve credit for the work he has done the past three years in teaching young players and creating a winning culture.
While Woodson prepares for the final game of his 18-year career on Sunday in Kansas City, the Raiders believe his influence will last much longer.
''He will have a legacy here that lasts because of the things that he has shown people,'' coach Jack Del Rio said. ''The lead that he has provided in terms of the way he prepares, the way he attacks his preparation, the way he trains his body, the way he takes care of himself, the respect he has for the game. I think those things stay with the organization for a number of years.''
While Woodson repeatedly said he didn't come back to Oakland solely to mentor younger players, it was a natural byproduct of the way he did his job every day.
Teammates who grew up watching Woodson win the Heisman Trophy at Michigan and become one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history, relished the chance to see Woodson work up close.
''As a player when you get a chance to play with a guy that caliber you have to take things from him and apply it to yourself in your own way,'' cornerback David Amerson said. ''The great things he does are little things I see to help him get to that position. I definitely want to apply them to myself.''
As much as the 10 interceptions and countless other plays Woodson made the past three years, it was his work ethic that resonated most.
Never known for spending lots of time with his playbook or in the weight room as a young star, Woodson has been just that late in his career - a major reason why he has been so successful even at age 39.
Woodson took part in the entire offseason program and never missed a game despite dislocating his right shoulder in the season opener. Woodson occasionally had to leave games briefly to pop the shoulder back in place and even used it to deliver hits in lopsided games in a lesson on competitiveness.
''You can't even put a word on the different things that he's done for these players, and just the competitive nature,'' defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. ''He let the players know early on that, `If you have any chance of taking my position, good luck, because it's not going to happen.' He let them know early on that he was competing from the very beginning. It doesn't matter what is his age, it's just a number. He was a guy that's letting them know it's about how hard you work and how hard you compete.''
Despite a 14-33 record since his return to Oakland, Woodson sees reasons for optimism in the Raiders' near future thanks to two straight strong drafts by general manager Reggie McKenzie.
That has helped put foundation pieces in place with quarterback Derek Carr, receiver Amari Cooper, pass rusher Khalil Mack as well as several other young contributors. The Raiders could be in position next year to end a playoff drought that dates back to the 2002 season.
Woodson is one of three players still active in the NFL who have played in a playoff game for the Raiders, joining Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski and Houston punter Shane Lechler.
''I do feel like the organization is in a great place for going forward,'' Woodson said. ''I think they're under great leadership under Jack Del Rio. I think Reggie has done a great job for what he inherited when he came. I guess you always want to leave a place better than when you came in. I feel like this organization and this team is definitely in a better place.''
NOTES: The Raiders signed cornerback SaQwan Edwards to the active roster from the practice squad. Edwards signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in May after three seasons at New Mexico. The team placed safety Nate Allen on the reserve/injured list.
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