For Raiders at safety it's Charles Woodson, Tyvon Branch, and questions

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The players

FS: Charles Woodson, Usama Young, Shelton Johnson

SS: Tyvon Branch, Brandian Ross, Jonathan Dowling

What's new?

Not much. The Raiders drafted Jonathan Dowling with their final selection in the seventh round of the draft. Oh, and Tyvon Branch returns after being out all but the first two starts of last season.

The big question

Can Woodson have another 16-game season to finish his career on a high note?

The Raiders signed Woodson last off-season in a much celebrated return to the team who drafted him and where he spent the first eight years of his career. He surprised a few people by being the picture of dependability, starting every game and playing nearly every snap. He and the Raiders would like his NFL send-off to be another full 16-game season, performing at a fairly high level.

Best case scenario

Having a full season of Branch and Woodson in the secondary together. The Raiders hoped to see this duo patrol the secondary all last season until Branch's season ended just as it began. The Raiders didn't do much to add insurance behind them so they can't really afford to not to have both of them healthy. Woodson was a single deep safety without Branch in the lineup and it was a lot to put on his plate. These two veterans together could be key to the overall defensive performance.

Worst case scenario

Brandian Ross is still on the roster. Jonathan Dowling is expected to play well on special teams but the Raiders need him to play well enough to make Ross expendable. Dowling needs to take over the back-up strong safety job from Ross who started in place of Branch last season and was rated as the worst starting safety in the NFL. If by the final cutdowns, Ross has earned a roster spot, that doesn't speak highly of this unit.

Random facts

Charles Woodson signed another one-year deal with the Raiders. He won't say for certain if this will be his last season and stated he is not approaching it as his last. However, he did say if he does not play for the Raiders, he would likely rather just retire.

Tyvon Branch was the Raiders leading tackler in 2010 and 2011 and was second on the team in tackling in 2009 and 2012.

Gil Brandt thinks the Raiders may have gotten the steal of the 2014 draft in Jonathan Dowling. They drafted him with the pick they acquired from the Seahawks in the Terrelle Pryor trade. It was the very last tradable pick in the draft.

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