YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SUNDAY NIGHT spotlight It never gets old for him

September 13, 2009|Sam Farmer

It's tough to age gracefully as an NFL cornerback, but Green Bay's Charles Woodson is proving it can be done.

While much of the focus this preseason has been on the Packers' highly effective offense, the 32-year-old Woodson has had a phenomenal summer. He is a key factor in the Green Bay defense's transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme, and will be a pulsing blip on the radar screen of the Chicago Bears, who open at Lambeau Field tonight.

In the third preseason game, typically the best time to evaluate first-stringers, he played one half against Arizona and had two sacks and forced three fumbles -- one he recovered, and another that was run back for a touchdown by Aaron Kampman.

"I don't know how many days you have like that over the course of the year," Woodson said after that 44-37 victory, "but if I can get a few of those in the regular season and help this team win, I'm happy about that."

Woodson is particularly effective in the nickel package, when a third cornerback comes in and allows him to slide inside and closer to the line of scrimmage. There, his size (6 feet 1, 202 pounds) and strength are even more of advantage, and he has better rush angles on the quarterback should he blitz.

A hallmark of new defensive coordinator Dom Capers is his tendency to bring pressure from all angles, as opposed to Green Bay's previous system, which relied more on the front four to provide the pass rush and the other seven to cover on the back end.

Earlier in his career, when he was in Oakland, one of the knocks on Woodson was that, being so athletic, he would often take risks outside the framework of the defense and get caught out of position.

That's not a problem in Green Bay, where he increasingly leans on his experience and smarts to make up for any physical decline.

-- Sam Farmer

Los Angeles Times Articles