The Oakland Raiders re-signed former first-round pick Charles Woodson this offseason for a number of reasons.
The 36-year-old veteran was reunited with the Raiders to provide the team’s group of young defensive backs with a mentor. The signing was also likely a PR move, meant to give silver and black fans a reason to be excited about a 2013 campaign shrouded in doubt. The one uncertainty, though, was whether or not the Raiders planned to start Woodson this upcoming season.
Well, we now appear to have an answer to that question.
During the Raiders’ minicamp earlier this week, Woodson was running with the first-team defense as the starting free safety alongside strong safety Tyvon Branch. It was generally assumed that he would slide in as a starter once he was signed three weeks ago, but his working with the ones paints a clearer picture of what the Raiders were expecting when they brought him aboard.
“Wood’s been great,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do. He’s really exactly what we felt we were going to be able to get in a player like that; a Hall of Fame-caliber player that’s made a lot of plays on the football over his career.”
With Woodson penciled in for a starting job, recently-acquired Usama Young will fall back into the No. 2 spot on the free safety depth chart. The former spot starter for the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns was expected to push for a starting gig, but will now be forced to play second fiddle with Woodson in the mix.
Over the past couple of years, Woodson’s age has begun to catch up with his body. From a broken collarbone to a hamstring injury, health has suddenly become an issue for the 16-year veteran. If he can stay healthy in 2013, though, he should have no problem making an instant impact for the Raiders.
No matter the reasoning behind their signing of Woodson, the Raiders appear to have gotten a quality starter out of the whole deal. We’ll see soon enough if the aging veteran can make his mark on the Oakland secondary.