With as many new and young players there are on the Raiders these days, very few can or should be missing an offseason practice if they can avoid it. If there is one player who has earned the right to take a day off it's 18-year veteran Charles Woodson. But the future Hall of Famer made a point to be there every day.
"I think this is the first time in my 18-year career that I've been to every practice," said Woodson. "Honestly, I sat down with Jack before it all started and we talked about the importance and what he wanted from this team and him wanting me here. I honestly didn't plan on being here every practice, but I'm here. I understood completely what he was talking about. Also, talking with my position coaches, [defensive backs coach] Marcus Robertson, and all of those guys, we decided the best thing to do was be here Day 1 and just continue through the whole thing. It's been great, a great time here working with this new staff."
With a new coaching staff, a player with Woodson's experience and veteran status is an invaluable resource with coaching their new team. Though Woodson admits he didn't originally intend on being here, he agreed to do it because it was important to the coaches that they have his veteran presence around. It also sets an example for the younger guys about how a future Hall of Famer goes about his business.
"It means everything," defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said of Woodson's presence. "The wealth of knowledge, the fact that he's played so long and he still has so much juice, so much energy, so much football to share. Our team is so young, when a guy like that has so much experience and knowledge and you see him out there, working with the guys, coaching them up, still making plays, still diving around, catching the ball, it's just amazing. The NFL average is three years and he's on 18, that's extraordinary. Having him on the team is just a blessing. He's awesome. If we had a team full of Charles Woodsons, we'd be pretty good."
"It's been excellent, really," Jack Del Rio said. "The leadership, the mentoring, the example - it's not surprising to me. I've been around a few great players over the last couple of years, watching Peyton Manning, watching Champ Bailey. It's not a secret why some of these guys that are tremendous athletes, they're playing well into their careers, why they continue to play at such a high level. It's their work ethic and their love for the game."
Woodson has started every single game the past two seasons for the Raiders and is expected to do it once again. With nearly an entire new coaching staff, it is invaluable to have a coach on the field such that Woodson provides both in games and in practice. Even in May.