Woodson faces crucial year

Could Charles Woodson's injury problems be a stumbling block to getting a contract extension?


            There's never been any doubt about Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson's playing ability.

            The sixth-year veteran enters the final year of his contract. Woodson has been a Pro Bowler in four of those seasons. It's a no-brainer. Resign him, lock him up long term and throw away the key. Right? Well, that's where things get a little cloudy.

            Woodson is coming off a season in which he missed nine games because of injury and who knows if that scenario could be enough to make talks of an extension a stumbling block. He missed five games early in the season because of a fractured shoulder and then four more late in the season with a broken bone in his leg. When he was on the field, Woodson provided a presence teams had to respect but he was clearly not at the level that made him a top-flight corner.

            The 26-year old Woodson missed the Pro Bowl last season for the first time in his career and admitted that he perhaps returned to action too soon. Woodson, however, did not regret doing such.

            The Raiders could use a healthy Woodson, a situation that could lead to him re-establishing himself as a dominating cornerback. Woodson is due $2.4 million dollars this season, the last of the six-year deal he signed when the Raiders drafted him with the fourth overall pick in the draft.

            Woodson would like a new contract done before the start of training camp but last season was not the first time he was saddled with injuries. Woodson played most of the 2001 season with a turf toe injury that prevented him from practicing during the week.

            Again, if Woodson is healthy, Oakland will open up its wallet. The Raiders, however, cannot be blamed for being hesitant in doing so after two injury plagued seasons.


Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com

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