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Raiders expect Woodson to make big impact

The SportsXchange

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The return of defensive back Charles Woodson may have an impact on the Oakland Raiders that cannot be measured by statistics or even graded on game tapes.

"You want to play this game with a swagger, with a little bit of an air of confidence," Raiders coach Dennis Allen told the Bay Area News Group Wednesday after the team signed Woodson. "Charles ... he's got that swagger and I think he can bring some of that to our team -- not just defensively, but to the whole team in general."

Woodson began his career with the Raiders in 1998 when he was the No. 4 overall draft pick after leading Michigan to a national championship and winning the Heisman Trophy. In 2006 Woodson signed a free-agent contract with the Green Bay Packers worth $52 million over seven years.

He is one of the few players to play in the Pro Bowl in three decades -- the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.

When he became a free agent this year, Woodson preferred to sign with a team that was a Super Bowl contender. The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos courted him, but apparently did not make an offer. The Raiders were reported to have had an offer on the table for a while.

Allen made a point to mention Woodson's 55 career interceptions, 11 of them returned for touchdowns. Beyond the stats, Allen expects Woodson to influence the rebuilding Raiders with his experience and leadership.

"You see the talent and the player, but when you combine that with the maturation process he's gone through, he's a real pro," Allen said. "It was evident in visiting with him that he wanted to be a Raider. He wanted to be a part of what we're doing here. When you bring in a guy with those attributes, those leadership abilities, it was a good fit."

Woodson arrives in Oakland in one piece, for now, but he has broken his right collarbone twice in the last three years, which is a serious concern considering one of his best skills is his hitting, especially on blitzes.

And one of his blitzes caused one of the biggest controversies in NFL history.

It was he who blitzed off the defensive left side and hit Tom Brady in the 2001 playoff encounter against the New England Patriots known as the "Tuck Rule Game." The rule that overturned that obvious fumble, and probably decided the game, was rescinded this year.

If Woodson expects to play with that same aggression, his collarbone must hold up.

"That was one of the things we wanted to make sure of when we brought Charles in here," Allen said. "We wanted to make sure everything was fine and he was healthy, and from a medical standpoint we didn't have any issue with it."

Woodson did not take part in the Raiders' OTAs and left for Florida soon after signing.
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