Woodson Can Play But Packers Have Options

"Charles is still a good football player," safeties coach Darren Perry said on Tuesday. "I don't know why anyone would question that." But at age 36 and the highest 2013 cap charge on the team, does he have a future in Green Bay?

In salary-cap dollars, Charles Woodson's $10 million charge for next season is the highest on the team.

That, more than anything, will put the defensive back's roster spot in jeopardy once general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy begin examining the Green Bay Packers' roster.

Woodson, moved to safety in the base defense during the offseason, played in seven regular-season games, missing the final nine with his second broken collarbone in three years. He returned for the two playoff games, playing a key role in bottling up Adrian Peterson in the wild card round but looking a step slow in the divisional game at San Francisco.

"Charles is still a good football player," safeties coach Darren Perry said on Tuesday. "I don't know why anyone would question that. He had the injury and obviously missed some time. When he was out there, he was still effective."

Woodson had an up-and-down performance against the 49ers.

The Packers had the momentum and a 7-0 lead when the 49ers faced a third-and-10. Colin Kaepernick scrambled to his left and flipped a ball over Woodson to running back Frank Gore, with 29 of the 45 yards coming after the catch. That set up the Niners' tying touchdown.

In the second quarter, the 49ers faced another third-and-long — third-and-goal from the 12. Woodson got lost on a crossing route and Michael Crabtree strolled into the end zone for a 14-14 tie.

On the other hand, Woodson broke up two passes, including on San Francisco's third snap of the third quarter, when he broke quickly on a pass to Vernon Davis and made a diving deflection.

Would that have been a pick-six if Woodson were in a midseason groove?

"No, that would have been a tough play either way," Perry said. "He knocked it down. In the end, I think that's evident of his playmaking ability still. To sit out as long as he did, you're going to have some rust and you're probably not going to be as sharp as you'd like, but I think he was still effective and he can still play in this league."

Later in the quarter, Kaepernick ran away from Woodson — and everyone else — en route to a 56-yard touchdown.

Woodson, after intercepting 37 passes in his first six seasons in Green Bay, had just one this season. After breaking up five passes in his seven games, Woodson deflected two on Saturday.

Woodson is such a team leader that he was voted a playoff captain, even though he missed the final nine games of the regular season. However, the Packers have younger, cheaper and more athletic options. In Woodson's place, M.D. Jennings started at safety, rookie cornerback Casey Hayward went from the dime to nickel and rookie safety Jerron McMillian played the dime.

Jennings had a solid second season after playing a handful of snaps on defense as a rookie. McMillian, a fourth-round pick, is an intriguing prospect with his speed and physicality. The Packers were 5-4 when Woodson started and 7-2 without him.

"With all of our young guys, I think they did a good job when they were in there," Perry said. "We didn't fall off from what we wanted to do defensively. Obviously, we can be better, but I thought those guys came in and did a heck of a job. They weren't perfect, by no means, but they were winning performances. I think we can build on that."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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