Oakland Raiders

Raiders notebook: Charles Woodson returns to camp, analyzes the current roster

Former Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson was in Napa this week and gave his take on how the team is shaping up.
Former Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson was in Napa this week and gave his take on how the team is shaping up. Associated Press file

Charles Woodson, in town for an event at his winery in the area, took in the Raiders joint practice session with the Los Angeles Rams Thursday.

The former Raiders and Green Bay Packers great has got some time on his hands this football season.

“I wasn’t brought back to ESPN,” Woodson said. “I’m a free agent.”

Woodson talked with servicemen who were invited guests to practice, mixed with players afterward and had a conversation with quarterback Derek Carr before stopping to talk with reporters for a few minutes.

“It’s great to have C-Wood here,” coach Jon Gruden said. “We’re trying to bring him back to the Raider organization.”

That sounded good to Woodson.

“If I can come around and be around the organization in some capacity, if that happens, man, that would be great,” Woodson said.

In the meantime, Woodson put his analyst’s cap back on addressed some issues regarding the 2019 Raiders:

More talent on the roster: “I see a lot of team speed, especially on the offensive side of the ball and especially on the receiving corps. It’d be great to have eighty-four (Antonio Brown) out there so he can bring that element to the game. But I think you see some guys out there that love the game of football. That’s the most important thing. They got guys that love the game and give everything they’ve got. That’s what it’s all about.”

When Brown’s absence becomes a problem: “It becomes a problem with the offense when you have a guy slotted to do all these different things for you and he’s not here to learn the offense. You’ve got to l earn all the offense and the verbiage when you’ve got to convert a route into something else, what looks you’re going to get, and the timing with Derek (Carr).

“That’s important, because he’s going to be a big part of this offense. Right now you’ve got to plug people in the position he’s going to be in, so it doesn’t quite look the way it’s going to look when he’s out there.”

The growth of Carr: “He’s had a year under his belt now with Gruden. He knows how Gruden is. He knows what to expect. He knows how hard Gruden coaches. Taken a lot of criticism, he’s gotten a lot of that over the years. He’s had injuries. So he’s a weathered guy already in his young career. And all that does is it either makes you better, or you get worse. You never stay the same. But I think what he’s going though in his short career will help him get better. And he’s got weapons around him, man. that don’t hurt. I think he’s going to be fine.”

Impressions of rookie safety and ‘Hard Knocks’ star Johnathan Abram: “I just talked to him briefly a minute ago. I told him, ‘that edge you have, man, don’t lose it.’ There’s a lot of people with a lot of opinions of him right now. Don’t lose that edge. Because if you start doing what other people want you to do, then you can never be who you’re supposed to be.

“I like the confidence. But the end of the day it’s what he does out there between the lines. You’ve got to bring the game with the talk and the braggadocio, and I don’t have a problem with that. As long as you’re out there making plays, you can say whatever you want to say.”

Plenty of good seats available

Almost no one’s buying the notion that the Raiders’ preseason “home” game in Winnipeg against the Packers is worth paying an average of nearly $150 per ticket to watch.

How else can we explain why, as of Wednesday, there had reportedly been just 8,944 tickets sold for the game in Manitoba in two weeks?

Perhaps Canadian fans don’t realize the Aug. 22 game at IG Field will mark the second step toward history for the Raiders this year? Oakland is set to become the first NFL team to play games in three different countries in one season. Their three-country tour will be complete when they take on Khalil Mack and the Bears in London in Week 5.

Maybe fans don’t realize that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers may actually take a couple of snaps in the game? Is it because folks don’t realize it’s the final “home” preseason game the Oakland Raiders will ever play?

More likely, it’s the sticker shock to blame for just 27 percent of the seats being sold thus far. Most of those tickets already sold were the cheapest seats at $75 a pop, all of which are now gone. What’s remaining are tickets costing an average of $144, roughly the price of a ticket to the Grey Cup, Canada’s version of the Super Bowl.

According to Yahoo Sports, it’s also possible the Raiders and the promoter simply overestimated the demand in Canada for a meaningless NFL preseason game. There’s some concern that the 33,000-seat IG Field may be half empty by the time the game rolls around, but you won’t hear that from the promoters.

“Did I think coming out of the press conference we would have stronger sales? Yes,” promoter John Graham told the Canadian Press a couple of weeks ago. “Am I expecting a good push going into the final month? Yes.”

We’ll stay tuned to see how that plays out.

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