Charles Woodson: Always honest and to the point
By Jim Owczarski. OnMilwaukee.com
~It was a good day for Charles Woodson to do his best relief pitcher impression on the mound at Miller Park on Wednesday, as members of the Milwaukee Brewers front office were on hand evaluating roster moves and starter Marco Estrada left early with injury – even though his best curveball probably went unnoticed.
The future Hall of Fame defensive back stared down an imaginary runner at second base before unleashing his off speed stuff prior to the Brewers game against the San Francisco Giants, and then headed up to the press box dished on Donald Driver, a possible position change and the new-look Green Bay Packers defense in this edition of Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: Have you talked to Donald Driver yet after his win on “Dancing With The Stars?”
Charles Woodson: I haven’t yet. He’s probably on a tour of some sort and receiving a lot of attention because of that. It’s pretty impressive. His time out there working hard trying to win that ball of some sort … he did great. I caught a couple of his routines throughout the course of him being out there. He was great.
OMC: Did you watch the finale on Tuesday?
CW: I didn’t get to see it. I watched it Monday night when he had the Packers colors on and did the cowboy routine. That guy man, he’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever been around.
So, knowing that he was going out there to do “Dancing With The Stars” you were going to damn near have to kill him for him not to win because he’s going to work hard. It’s great to see him come out on top.
OMC: What did you think of the Packers placing an emphasis on defense in the draft?
CW: I thought it was great. Take a look back at our season last year, 15-1 is great by a lot of standards but from a defensive standpoint we didn’t hold our end of the bargain. And when our team needed us most in that first playoff game we really let the team down and I think our organization seen that we had some holes in our defense and some players we needed to pick up to try to fulfill some of those holes. I thought they did a great job of going specifically at what we needed in the draft, picking up some young guys, some young studs. I’m excited to see what these guys can do. I think they’ll do well.
OMC: With off-season training activities starting and training camp around the corner, does that help get the bad taste out from the loss to the Giants?
CW: It’s hard to get the bad taste out of your mouth because you get close and you know you don’t get the opportunity that many times so you want to take advantage of it. Getting back to the swing of things, getting back to the guys and starting fresh and knowing that this is a new year and a new opportunity, I think that’s the part that probably gets you.
OMC: Have you been talked to about moving from corner to safety?
CW: I hear all the reports about moving to safety and all of this, but I don’t think there’s any more I can do on the football field than I already do. I think the only thing that would ever change is just the title from being a corner to a safety. I’m a football player so I can do anything on that football field and they can put me anywhere and they know that. All the talk about ‘is he going to play safety?’ I kind of already plays safety, so it wouldn’t be that big of a jump.
OMC: You were up in Green Bay on Tuesday but didn’t participate in any drills, any reason?
CW: I just came around, took a physical and got into the meeting room and picked up these brand new iPads that they passed out with our playbook on it and all of that. Just came in to just being around them for a minute, put my eyes on some guys and see what was going on. That was it. I wasn’t practicing this week, had no intentions of it, but of course we’ve got our mandatory (practices) coming up in a few weeks and I’ll get out there and run around with the guys.
OMC: Pick up any enthusiasm from seeing the young guys run around?
CW: I think the enthusiasm really just came with the draft, just seeing where the team went in drafting defense. If we get our defense back on track we’re going to be a really good team. We’ll be hard to beat. I’m excited about that.
OMC: What comes first – a good pass rush or good coverage?
CW: You’ve got to pass rush. You can get away with a lot of things on the back end if you’ve got a pass rush. With us, we had more interceptions than we had sacks last year, and you figure if you can have a pass rush with guys who know how to get the ball, you’ve got something pretty special. We know the importance of getting to the quarterback, either getting him off his spot or getting sacks. So we can get some guys in there that can help us now and shore up that pass rush. I think the biggest part will be freeing Clay (Matthews) up to do what whatever he wants to do on that line, having another guy on the other side that can take pressure off him and allow him to just have a monster year. That’s what we want and I think we’ll get that.
OMC: The Packers signed former Dolphins defensive end Philip Merlin on Wednesday. Does that once again how serious the team is about improving the pass rush?
CW: It’s serious, man. Listen, we lost to the New York Giants and that’s a team that I think they have a good defense, their secondary has some pretty good players, but it’s all about their rush. And they could rush four guys a lot of times and get to the quarterback or get him off the spot or get him out of the pocket. That’s a huge part of their defense. I think watching that game, I’m sure that (general manager) Ted (Thompson) and scouts and those guys said ‘Look, we’ve got to start getting back after this quarterback.’ If we do that I’m telling you, we’ll be right where we want to be.
OMC: What’s the fastest way to get a lot of the rookies you’ll be depending on defensively up to speed?
CW: Put the in the game and see what they’ve got. As long as those guys come in and they’re ready to play and they can pick up the defense, you put them in and let them play. The only way you get better, I feel like to me it’s not like quarterback where you draft a guy and you let him sit behind a guy for a year, two years or whatever and let him learn, if you’re on the defense, defensive line, linebacker, whatever, you put him in the game and see how he is once the lights turn on, once things start moving around and see if a guy can play. Guys are going to look good in practice, some of them, but the game’s a whole different deal. It’s a whole different deal, so put them in the game and see what they do.
OMC: Any added pressures this year to maintain a success level after a Super Bowl and a 15-1 regular season – or is 2012 a clean slate?
CW: I think if anybody was going to feel pressure it was coming off the Super Bowl year. Now we’ve played a year, we were 15-1, there was a lot of expectations for that year but we came up short. So now a year removed form that Super Bowl and now, to use your words, it’s a clean slate. Let’s start over, let’s get that hunger back. I think we relaxed last year a little bit so this year will be a chance for us to get back on there and be hungry about what we’re trying to do again.
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