Woodson on Flynn: 'I look forward to seeing him grow'
"I was convinced this team will compete. This team will be in games." -- Charles Woodson on why he chose the Raiders (AP)
ALAMEDA -- Charles Woodson said it was good to be back after taking the field for the first time since he left the Raiders organization in 2005. Although it was almost eight years ago, not much has changed.
"The only difference is the big guy's not here," Woodson said Tuesday, referring to late Raiders owner Al Davis. "That's really it, knowing that you're not going to see him come out onto the field is the only difference. … There's only one Al Davis."
Woodson's contact with the Davis family has been minimal despite his return to Oakland. The 15-year veteran says he regrets that he never sat down for a parting conversation with Al when his first tenure in Silver and Black ended, and he has yet to speak with current owner Mark Davis.
He has also yet to speak with first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden, who was supposed to be a sponge to Woodson's 15 years of NFL knowledge. With Hayden out, Woodson is still eager to help where he can, but he didn't sign a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Raiders just to be a mentor.
[NEWS: Raiders' Hayden hospitalized with 'abdominal issue']
"I was convinced this team will compete," Woodson explained when asked why he chose the Raiders. "This team will be in games."
If the team can adopt some of the confidence Woodson displays, and the respect the eight-time Pro Bowler receives, they will.
"Charles Woodson plays the game with a little bit of a swagger," head coach Dennis Allen said. "That's what the real good teams do, so hopefully he'll bring some of that here to our football team."
"He's a legend," said linebacker Nick Roach. "I think he's going to be great for the locker room."
Starting quarterback Matt Flynn described him as "extremely smart" and also mentioned his "swagger" before saying Woodson knows offensive concepts better than the offensive players themselves.
Woodson says he feels great physically at age 36, citing past shoulder and collarbone injuries. While he's expecting success on the field, he's also happy to spread his knowledge around.
"When there's an opportunity to step in and give input, I'll step in and do that," said Woodson, who admitted he's more of a "lead by example" guy. "Wherever it's possible to help a guy -- whether young or old -- I'll do that."
At age 28, veteran cornerback Usama Young could be considered old in NFL years, and he's excited to have Woodson and his brain around to help, despite the fact he may represent some of Young's biggest competition.
With everyone seemingly convinced of Woodson's worth, the biggest unknown is what jersey number he'll wear, as he took the field for OTAs Tuesday in an unmarked black shirt.
"I can't find a number, man, everything's taken. Right now I'm the 'blank man,'" said Woodson, who wore No. 24 for the Raiders from 1998 until 2005.
Veteran cornerback Tracy Porter currently wears No. 24, and he might be feeling the pressure.
"I'll have to negotiate that for sure," Woodson said Tuesday.
"There's going to be some numbers crunched in the locker room," Young agreed. "He wants that thing."
Even without a number Woodson looked awfully comfortable around Raiders headquarters, calling it his second home. It's clear Raider Nation hasn't forgotten him, either, as he was greeted by a throng of fans awaiting his arrival in Alameda last week.
"I know what it's like to have this fan base behind you," said a smiling Woodson. "A lot of these guys don't."
Oakland is counting on an old friend's swagger to reconnect Raider Nation with its team and make a certain former owner proud.