ALAMEDA -– The Raiders' bye week evaluation brought change on offense and defense, within the scheme and how players are used.
One question: Why is Charles Woodson playing so far back?
The veteran free safety is a playmaker comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage, and the Raiders chose to activate him more often starting in Week 6. The decision has been beneficial for the Raiders and their veteran standout.
That’s been a key part of his recent renaissance, which has prompted surprisingly strong play for the 38-year old and increased effectiveness defending the run.
It’s a move Woodson has welcomed.
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“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “I’m used to playing up there. For most of my career, I’ve been in and around the line of scrimmage. I’m just having fun. I’m blessed to still be playing this game. They’ve allowed me to move around a little bit, and I’m trying to take advantage of it.”
Woodson played back quite a bit last season, an unusual role for a defensive back better suited to play physical defense. While Woodson seemed out of his element, it was a necessary switch.
“Last year, I was a little banged up,” Woodson said. “I was dealing with ribs all season and it seemed like they weren’t getting better, so I was staying back on purpose. I was still making a lot tackles though. This year I feel great. It’s good to get down in the box and little bit. I really feel like I’m playing football when I’m down there.”
Woodson is having a strong season that suggests this may not be his last. He has 50 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery through eight games.
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He still commands respect, and is a threat the Denver Broncos will be aware of near the line of scrimmage during Sunday’s game at O.co Coliseum.
“We believe he has a lot of football left and when you turn on the tape, you see that he does,” Denver Broncos head coach John Fox said.“They’ve been able to utilize him a little more as a down safety just because he is such a good cover guy. You can match him up on a third wideout, a gifted tight end, or maybe it’s a situational back that’s very good, so he’s got that cover ability and obviously, he’s seen a lot of offensive football. That’s why he’s having a tremendous year.”