GREEN BAY – Charles Woodson didn’t participate in Tuesday’s first organized team activity practice of the offseason, but the Green Bay Packers veteran cornerback did spend much of the day at Lambeau Field, attending meetings, taking his physical and getting a peek at the team’s new young talent.
Oh, and getting his new iPad.
Apparently, the Packers have gone digital with their playbook, according to Woodson, who spoke after throwing out the first pitch at Miller Park for Wednesday’s Milwaukee Brewers game,
OTA practices are technically voluntary although strongly encouraged for players. In the case of a veteran like Woodson, who is entering his 15th NFL season, his absence from the practice field isn’t a major issue.
“I just came around, took my physical and got into the meeting room, picked up these brand new iPads that they passed out with all of the playbook on it and all of that,” Woodson said in recapping his Tuesday, which ended with an appearance at quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ MACC Fund event at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee and Woodson’s wine pouring event at The Capital Grille, which featured his wine, twentyfour, and benefitted his foundation.
“(I) just came in, to be around for a minute, put my eyes on some guys and see what was going on and that was it. I wasn’t practicing this week, had no intentions of it.”
Woodson spoke as if he won’t take part in any of the OTA practices and won’t hit the field until the team’s mandatory minicamp June 12-14.
“We’ve got a mandatory (minicamp) coming up in a few weeks, so of course I’ll get out there and run around with the guys,” Woodson said.
As he did on an appearance on Green & Gold Today earlier this month, Woodson also discussed the possibility of moving to safety following the release of three-time Pro Bowler Nick Collins.
“I’ve heard all the reports about moving to safety and all this, but I don’t think there’s any more I can do on the football field than I already do,” Woodson said. “I think the only thing that would ever change is just the title, from being a corner to a safety. But I’m a football player. I can do anything on that football field and they can put me anywhere. And they know that. All the talk about, ‘Can he play safety?’ I kind of already play safety. So it wouldn’t be that big of a jump.”
While he said the team’s surprising season-ending loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New York Giants in the NFC Divisional Playoff round at Lambeau Field took time to get over, he also said the loss clearly had an impact on the team’s approach in the draft and general manager Ted Thompson’s decision to fix the NFL’s worst defense with six defensive selections in his first six picks.
“It’s hard to get the bad taste out of your mouth because you get close, and you know you don’t get that opportunity too many times. You want to take advantage of it,” Woodson said. “But getting back into the swing of things, getting back around the guys and starting fresh and knowing this is a new year and new opportunity, I think that’s what gets you going.
“I think the enthusiasm came with the draft and seeing the way the team went, drafting defense. If we get our defense back on track, we’re going to be a really good team. We’re going to be hard to beat. I’m excited about that.”
Woodson said the Giants’ ability to get pressure on the quarterback with a four-man rush served as motivation for the team to improve in that department. The Packers took USC outside linebacker Nick Perry and Michigan State defensive lineman Jerel Worthy with its first two picks, and both should help the pass rush and allow three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Clay Matthews to be more productive.
“When you’ve got a pass rush, you can get away with a lot of things in the back end if you’ve got a pass rush,” Woodson said. “With us, we had more interceptions than we had sacks last year. You figure if you can have a pass rush with guys (in the secondary) who know how to get the ball, you’ve got something pretty special.
“We know the importance of getting to the quarterback, either getting m off his spot or getting sacks. We’ve got some guys in there who can help us now and shore up that pass rush. The biggest part is going to be freeing Clay up to do whatever he wants to do on that line and having another guy on the other side that can take pressure off him and allow him to have a monster year. That’s what we want, and I think we’ll get that.
“We lost to the New York Giants, and that’s a team that, I think they have a good defense the secondary they have some pretty good players, but it’s all about that (pass) rush. They can rush four guys a lot of times and get to the quarterback or get him off his spot or out of the pocket. That’s a huge part of that defense. I think watching that game, I’m sure that Ted and the scouts and those guys said, ‘Look, we’ve got to get back getting after this quarterback.’ If we do that, I’m telling you, we’ll be right where we want to be.”
And that, of course, is back in the Super Bowl, which the Packers won following the 2010 season.
“We were 15-1, there were a lot of expectations, but we came up short. Now we’re a year removed from that Super Bowl and now it’s a clean slate. Let’s start over and get that hunger back,” Woodson said. “I think we relaxed last year a little bit. This year will be a chance to be hungry about what we’re trying to do again.”
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