Woodson is the defending NFL defensive player of the year, and the 13th-year pro desperately wants to add "Super Bowl champion" to his Hall of Fame-worthy resume. So, the key piece to coordinator Dom Capers' defense stepped up his workouts during the offseason.
"You know what, I actually took a boxing class down in Florida," Woodson said after the minicamp ended on Tuesday. "Probably the toughest work I've done."
Woodson, who weighs about 200 pounds instead of his typical 210 — "at least" 210, he said with a laugh — worked with Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins with the same trainer in Orlando, Fla. Woodson, who will turn 34 just a few days after the Week 4 game against Detroit, didn't do any sparring but the cardiovascular intensity made him feel like he was "dying" after an hour workout.
"It built my shoulders up," Woodson continued. "And you know I had the shoulder kind of coming off at the end of the year, and the shoulder work that those boxers do is tremendous. So, it actually had me looking kind of big up top. I had to lay off it a little bit."
Woodson is coming off the best season, with a career-high and NFL-co-leading nine interceptions. His three defensive touchdowns also tied for the NFL lead, his four forced fumbles and 81 tackles were career highs, and he added two sacks.
The accolades were great, but they're not enough for a player who knows the clock is ticking on his career to get the Super Bowl ring that eluded him in 2001, when he had an interception in the Raiders' loss to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season.
Charles Woodson takes a break at Tuesday's practice. Bill Huber photo
"It's not enough. We've got to do more," Woodson said. "Last season was fun. It was a great season, especially individually with a lot of accolades and awards and such. But the mission is still there, and that's to win a championship. What I learn from the previous seasons is that whatever we were doing then is not enough. We need to do more."
Woodson talked openly last season about that team having the right stuff to get him to that goal. And that goal looked entirely possible when the Packers raced into the postseason with seven wins in eight games, but Kurt Warner gutted Woodson and Co. to the tune of 379 passing yards and five touchdowns en route to a 51-45 overtime shootout in the wild-card game in Glendale, Ariz.
The sting of that loss — like the sting of a few other big losses before it — hasn't gone away.
"Til I win a Super Bowl," he said. "I have a few of those instances over my career that I still think about on a daily basis. They're all opportunities and opportunities missed. Til I win the Super Bowl, I will always think about those times when I thought I had a chance to win it. A long time."
While the defense should be better after enduring some "bumps and bruises" while learning Dom Capers' defense last year, Woodson wasn't making any brash predictions. But he didn't see any reason why the Packers couldn't compete for the championship as long as all the players keep their eyes on the big prize.
"I mean, that's all up to us," he said. "There shouldn't be a reason, but that's up to the guys in the locker room to continue to have that attitude, continue to be hungry, continue to care about winning. As long as we have that, we have a chance."
In four career-defining seasons with the Packers, Woodson has reformed his reputation around the league. He's now a clear team leader with a stunning 28 interceptions in Green Bay compared to 17 in his eight seasons with the Raiders.
He'd trade them all to get another crack at winning a ring.
"What else is there? There's nothing else, really," Woodson said. "It's the ring and I want it. I want it bad. I'm going to do everything in my power to get it."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.
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