Woodson returns with force for Packers
Jan 06, 2013 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) --
After everything he has seen and everything he's faced, it would seem nothing could put any fear into 36-year-old, 15-year veteran defensive back Charles Woodson.
But the truth is, as he stood back on the sideline Saturday night at Lambeau Field, away from everyone during the national anthem before the NFC wild-card playoff game against Minnesota, Woodson felt around the extra padding in his shoulders and tried his best to ignore the unsettling feeling that was growing in his mind.
Would his twice-broken, now-healed collarbone hold up
"That was the scary part _ because you don't know," he said. "I really went into the game scared, not really knowing what was going to happen. I mean, you feel good about your shoulder being healed, but being in that position where you've broken it before, it's a funny feeling."
On Minnesota's opening drive, on second and 5, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson took a shot at the middle of the field and met Woodson head-on. Woodson leveled Peterson for minus-2 yards.
"Getting in there, getting that first tackle, hitting the ground a couple of times," said Woodson, "having people fall on top of me on the side where I broke it _ and to get up with no pain Let me tell you, that was a load off my shoulder."
Woodson went on to have six tackles total. He helped keep the unstoppable Peterson to 99 rushing yards, half of his average against the Packers this year. He helped the Packers dismantle the Vikings, 24-10, to advance in the playoffs. And he played nearly the entire game.
"He made a real great play in the second half when AP looked like he was about to break for a long one," said fellow safety Morgan Burnett. "And Wood just made a great open-field tackle. I felt that was a great play. It really contained Adrian Peterson and kept him from breaking out more than 100 yards.
"Wood was excited to be out there. It was good getting our captain back."
Woodson had missed the final nine games of the regular season with the broken collarbone, which he suffered in Week 7 at St. Louis. He broke the same collarbone in Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season. These were the first games he had missed due to injury since Nov. 29, 2007.
His defense missed him at times, as a threat for another interception _ 38 in his time in Green Bay. His 10 defensive touchdowns with Green Bay are a team record.
Sitting out made him miserable.
"Let me tell you, man, that's the hardest thing for a guy like myself, to sit on the sideline," said Woodson. "And watch your team, win or lose. It's hard to watch. I've read a lot of things about me these last couple of weeks, about what I can't do anymore. I felt like I couldn't defend myself.
"So to be on the field, and remind people of what I do, it felt good."
Though Woodson returned to practice Dec. 5 and said he was ready for game action weeks ago when the Packers played at Chicago, team doctor Patrick McKenzie just cleared him on New Year's Day.
"He just didn't think I was ready yet," said Woodson. "Just to clear any confusion up _ I heard a report that there was frustration between me and the doctors. That was never the case. My frustration was about not playing. I wanted to play, but me and Dr. McKenzie have been on the same page 100 percent. I trust his opinion implicitly."
By suiting up Saturday night at safety, starting next to Burnett and replacing M.D. Jennings, Woodson played in his 16th career playoff game. But the years didn't show as much as the heart.
"Charles is a physical guy; you could see it on one of his first blitzes," said rookie defensive back Casey Hayward. "I definitely didn't see any rust. He knows this defense better than anybody else. That first play, it was like, 'OK, he's back.'"
(c)2013 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099):
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]