Charles Woodson Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 16

(What kind of overlap did you have with Amani Toomer going back to Michigan?)

I only see Amani when we play so not much dialogue between us. I played with him for a year at Michigan, but really that's about it.

(Where is he at this stage of his career in the NFL?)

Playing well. I mean's he's just been consistent for that team. You don't really realize he's been there as long as he's been there with the same team and he continues to make plays, and it seems like throughout these playoffs he's been that guy and he's made the plays for them. He's scored the touchdowns, he's had the yards after-the-catch and those sort of things, so he's playing well

(Have you been around a locker room as loose as this one?)

Yeah, actually I have. This one is just different because guys are a lot younger. In Oakland when we were going through our runs we had older guys but it was still a pretty loose group. This is unique just because we have so many young guys out there that are playing well and they're just having fun. Everybody wants to look at that as a negative because guys are so young and do they know what it's about to be in the playoffs and that sort of thing, but these guys are playing good football and every time they're on the field they know their job, they know their assignments and we've been able to pile up wins with them.

(How unique is your physical secondary and what's your attitude?)

That's just the way we play. On the outside with the corners we want to be in the receivers' face almost all the time and you see last week our safeties took it upon themselves to go out there and really lay the big hit on the receivers. You know, letting those guys know that if you've got the ball in your hands we've turned it up a notch in these playoffs, so it's going to be like that again this week

(Did you have the feeling Seattle's receivers were intimidated by your team's hard hitting?)

It's hard to say if they were intimidated but, you know, any time you have hits like that the receiver knows what's going on. They know that when they touch that ball there's going to be a guy there ready to lay that hit on them, so it is I guess sort of a psychological advantage to have guys thinking about the hit maybe rather than catching the ball first and getting upfield.

(How does the cold weather affect the defense and what will you wear to prepare for the game?)

You know in football we all like to think of ourselves as tough guys, so no matter what the weather is, I think most guys will probably go out there no sleeves and play it just like it was 80 degrees. Usually in the bad-weather games teams go to the running game but last week, Seattle's a passing team, they tried to throw the ball a bunch of times but our secondary played well. You usually look for the run and New York's been running the ball well, having (Brandon) Jacobs back and I forget the other guy's name, but they've been running the ball pretty well and we'll have to look forward to a tough task of stopping those from getting the big, big yards on us.

(What does your mindset have to be to overcome those conditions and not let it be a factor?)

The one thing when you get bad-weather games if something goes wrong it usually kind of snowballs against you, and last week I think it happened to us early. But this is the playoffs and you've got to be strong-minded and guys went out there and stepped it up (after) the two early turnovers and just stuck to the grind, stuck to the game-plan, and didn't allow that game to get out of hand, because it very easily could have went the other way. They could have scored another touchdown somehow and we were down 21-0. In that game things happened early, so we had the whole game basically to go out there and still continue to play. Guys know what kind of team we have. We knew our offense could move the ball and we knew with our defense that we could keep them out of the end zone, and it was just a matter of going out there and continuing to play.

(What did you learn from your AFC Championship experience with the Raiders?)

For me it's a little easier to prepare for this one. The last time I was going to the championship game I was playing with a broken leg, so my whole mindset was, the head coach made it a point that anybody that was going to play in the game had to practice so this is a different situation. The coaches allowed me to stay up, you know go down for walk-through but come back and get my rehab on the things that I need to rehab on. That point in time I had to go out and practice with the broken leg so it was a tough situation and that really consumed all of my mental thoughts. It was 'How am I going to able to go out here and compete with these guys on Sunday?' So it's a little different in that respect.

(What is it like being back in this setting?)

It feels good. I have a few things, but it's not anything that I feel is going to slow me down, and playing with a bunch of great guys, the defense, I'm just excited to be able to play with a defense like this and this offense kind of reminds me a little bit of the offense we had in Oakland. We do a lot of similar things that they did - a lot of the four-receiver sets and the short passes here, short passes there and then hit you with a big play, screens and that type of thing. So it's kind of similar in that respect and I'm just having a lot of fun.

(How much did Brett's presence affect your willingness to play here?)

It's a funny situation of how I got here. I didn't want to come here, really, is what it boils down. But it seems like Green Bay is the only team that came knocking. I just came off another broken leg, I missed 10 games the previous season, I was trying my best to either get to Jacksonville or Tampa Bay and Jacksonville ended up taking, I think it was Brian Williams in free agency (and) Tampa Bay really wasn't talking a whole lot. And every time I talked to my agent, when I'm asking about all these other teams, he's saying 'Well they haven't said anything but Green Bay called again, so what do you want to do?' And it was almost like this is where I had to play. You know, either come to Green Bay or just sit at home and just continue to wait. I knew Brett's situation. I didn't know if he was going to come back or not but this was the team that was interested in me, and at that point it was Green Bay or bust.

(Why didn't you want to be here?)

It's like that when you've never been somewhere. I'd never really been to Green Bay. I came here and played before but all the talks you hear about Green Bay are people that played in Green Bay, it's like 'You don't want to play there.' Coming from Oakland this is night and day and every account I can remember of someone talking about Green Bay, this was not my type of place so I didn't want to come without ever visiting. Once I visited, I visited with a few of the guys and then I got here. It started off kind of slow. I had my ups and downs here, but it's just been a great situation for me and like I said I'm having fun here.

(Were your concerns more about the nightlife?)

Everything - organization, nightlife, the whole thing - you know just being in Green Bay. The talk is always this is no place for a black man and that's just how it was. And you get all those reports from people who've played here and those were the thoughts going through my mind when Green Bay kept calling, and like I said, I got here and the relationship between me, coaching staff, players here and community-wise just continued to get better while I've been here.

(Community-wise have you had a negative experience?)

I've been out and a lot of what I've heard about, it just hasn't happened. Of course there's going to be situations where you're out and people want autographs and that type of thing, but from my experience being here, the two years I've been here, it's not been like people have told me it would be. I've been able to go out in restaurants and sit down and eat in peace and it's been great, so my story of Green Bay, the people, would be a little different than what was told to me.

(Has this been a measure of redemption for you to play as well as you have here and make it back this deep in the playoffs?)

When I look at my body of work playing football I've always played at a high level. The thing about being in Oakland, we were a losing team and everybody loved to take the opportunity to jump on Oakland it seemed, so no matter how you played, it didn't matter. I had the injuries and people associated the injuries with playing bad I guess, so the talk coming out of Oakland was, 'This guy's lost a step. He can't play anymore, injury prone,' which I did have the injuries, but if anybody wants to go back and look at any film of me playing at Oakland, I've always played the way I'm playing now. But to be here and to be on a winning team again, people will start to notice again the way that I play the game and it's just kind of like people are getting the chance to know me as a football player again.

(Given how well Eli has played the last few weeks what do you have to do to change that?)

We've got to get to him. It's no secret. There's only a few quarterbacks that can play through the pressure situations. I think we have one of those quarterbacks. I think you look at a Tom Brady, that type of guy, but for the most part, across the board, if you can get to quarterbacks you can get them rattled, you can get them out of their game-plan. Then the odds are in your favor so throughout the game we've just got to continue to get pressure on him, move him out of the pocket and make him try to make those big plays, and I'm sure that we have a good chance if we do that.

(How surprised are you on how quickly this team has become a Super Bowl contender based on what you saw when you arrived?)

I feel exactly like that, it was a quick turnaround. I came here and I knew we had talent. Guys could play, but we were all just a bunch of individuals on the team. It was a new staff in here, new coordinator and so we struggled for a lot of last year, and I think what everyone noticed is the last four games of last season. That's when everything kind of came together and I think after the season was over, we almost had a shot at making the playoffs. I felt like we would have made a lot of damage had we made it, but I think everybody looking at that situation and looking at the way we played, knowing that everybody that was on that team was going to be back this year, we felt like we'd be good. I knew we would or I felt like we would make the playoffs. I had no idea we'd be 13-3 by any stretch, but I knew we'd make the playoffs and it just seemed like once we got into this offense, we got into these five-receiver sets and the defense just kept plugging away and winning some games early and letting those guys come along, then everything just clicked.

(Do you see a difference in Eli now as opposed to Week 2?)

I think it's just the team. I think the team as a whole is playing a lot better. It seems that Eli is coming up every game with one of those drives, those signature drives that every good quarterback seems to have on their resume, and I look at last week at the end of that (first) half, coming up with that (touchdown) that was a great drive. He's been able to do that the latter part of the season and the guys are rallying behind him and he's playing with a lot more confidence, making better decisions and the whole team's playing better.

{sportsad300}(What is it like playing for Mike and what is your relationship with him?)

Like I said, it started off kind of slow here. I was going through the phase of being here. Coming from Oakland I was kind of in a comfort zone, you know, everyone knew me; I knew everybody and to go to work every day was almost routine. You come here and everybody has their own set of rules. You have Green Bay tradition, so a lot of those talks after practice weren't necessarily good talks, but we talked through them, we met a couple times in private and tried to talk through things. (I) had to get some fines and that sort of thing, but since then the relationship as a whole with the organization, coach, players and everything has gotten better and now anything we need to talk about, we can talk about, and I know that with Coach McCarthy it's all about winning, and I think - you guys are at all the games and you see his play-calling - sometimes you see the onside kicks come out of nowhere. This is a guy that's just all about winning and I respect that, and that's the way I've always played. No matter what the situation, what's going on, you go out there to try to win, and that's his mentality.

(Is the focus on the offense and the defense playing under the radar a tribute to how well the defense has played?)

I think it just shows you that nobody can tell the future. Coming in everybody thought that this was going to be a defensive show, week in and week out defense was going to have to win games, and like I said, all of a sudden Coach comes out with the five wides, Ryan Grant comes out of nowhere. There was not supposed to be any type of running game (and) all of a sudden we have a 200-yard rusher in the postseason. So for us, we just know at that point all we have to do is go out there and be consistent and the offense is going to put points on the board. I think during the offseason everybody was a little upset about the Randy Moss situation and then letting Ahman Green (go), so everybody kind of put us right back at 8-8 basically, but the season's definitely turned out differently than that.

(What did you get fined for?)


(Do you think Mike understands you now better?)

Yeah I think that's the case. I think he understands that for me, during the week, no matter what's going on - you know, whether I'm hurt, whether it's a turf toe, whether it's a knee or any other situation that's going on in my life or with the team - on Sunday I'm coming to play. I think he understands that.

(Do you think you've earned that acceptance or understanding by how well you've played on Sundays?)

No question, but from the way that I do practice when I'm able to practice, when I'm in a situation in practice I know what I'm doing. It's not like I'm out there messing up plays or out of position. Throughout training camp I'm going hard every day. I do extra in the weight room. I'm running all the day, treadmill, making sure that I'm in great shape, and he understands that I'm going to be prepared for the game whether I'm out there running around with the team or whether I have to get it from just the film watching what we do. I think he understands that completely.

(Is that what makes a good coach, knowing how to deal with some players differently?)

I think so. You have to have your rules, of course, but some people you just have to deal with differently and not only does the coach have to understand that, but players have to understand that as well. A young guy's not going to be treated like a 10-year veteran, and he's not supposed to, and guys have to understand. And once everybody can buy in then the sky's the limit.

(Is there anything you saw in Ryan Grant in practice that made you think he'd be an almost 1,000-yard rusher?)

No, not at all. You go out there and you run plays and he's hitting his gaps, but that's practice. Nobody knows what a guy's going to do until he gets in that game and once we seen him in a game, then we said 'Ok, we've got something special.'

(How many games did it take to see that?)

It didn't take many. The first play I remember seeing him was against New York, you know the play on the sideline where a guy hit him low and he spinned out of it, continued up the sideline for a bigger gain. I think he got a first down on the play, and once you see a guy that can take a hit and keep his balance, tiptoe up the sideline, then you say 'Ok, maybe this guy's got a little talent. Let's see what he can do.' And then he just continued to progress from there.

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