Woodson's presence all that matters

Charles Woodson, who skipped the team's voluntary practices this off-season, reported on time and in shape to the team's first training camp practice on Friday evening. The cornerback downplayed his absence and explained why he chose not to attend the practices in May and June.

Charles Woodson wouldn't admit it, but he and the Packers probably knew when he signed his contract in the spring that he wouldn't be at the team's voluntary practices in May and June. Woodson, as he did the past few seasons while with the Oakland Raiders, prefers to prepare himself for the upcoming season in Houston with his personal trainer. That's what he did this year and that, obviously, was fine with head coach Mike McCarthy.

For Woodson, Houston is home. It's where he can clear his head from football, yet prepare his body for the next season. The Packers probably were OK with that at the time that he signed a seven-year, $52 million contract in April. They sent defensive backs coach Lionel Washington to Houston to check on Woodson, but it wasn't like Woodson was laying around and getting fat. It was more like he was getting phat and is prepared to live up to a deal that will pay him nearly $10 million this season.

"I knew I'd come in ready, and that's my only concern," Woodson said. "People may have wondered where I'm at and what's going on and whatever, but as long as I'm getting the work done that I need to get done and come here and show them that I'm ready to play football, that's really all that matters."

Woodson missed all 14 of Green Bay's Organized Team Activities practices in May and June. He also missed the team's voluntary minicamp May 19-21, but attended the post-draft minicamp in early May. The ninth-year pro says he learned everything he needs to know in the post-draft camp.

In order for him to be at his best this season, Woodson simply said that he needed to prepare in Houston and that it was nothing against McCarthy or the Packers.

"Where I'm at working out in Houston is where I'm most comfortable at," Woodson said. "It has nothing to do with the OTA's or the organization, or learning the system, or anything like that. I just like being down in Houston getting ready for football, but being away from football. I think that's what anybody needs when you play this game. You need time to clear your head, get your work done, and once you come here, it's football, football, football. You can get overloaded, and I never want to get overloaded as far as that's concerned because the game can run you down, you know what I mean? You want to come in here fresh. Body feels good mentally."

Woodson exercised his right not to attend the voluntary practices. As long as he comes through and lives up to his contract, nothing more will be mentioned of his absence from Green Bay this off-season. If he falls short of expectations, he may have to leave Houston for a few weeks next off-season.

In the meantime, Woodson's presence in the defensive backfield is all that matters. Before we know it, the off-season minicamps will be a distant memory as Woodson continues to focus on football, football, football.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and PackerReport. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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