GREEN BAY – Charles Woodson plans on returning – to the field this season, and to the Green Bay Packers in 2013.
While the veteran safety has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans – leaving him only the Dec. 30 regular-season finale at Minnesota as a chance to play before the postseason – he steadfastly maintained Friday that he will play again this season. If it ends up taking until the playoffs, so be it, he said.
Woodson, who suffered a broken collarbone Oct. 21 at St. Louis, will be sitting out his eighth straight game on Sunday.
“I feel good,” said Woodson, who took part on a limited basis in practice all week. “I don’t feel like I have to play in (the regular-season finale), but it’d be great to just get out there and play football. Next week will kind of take care of itself and we’ll see if I can get out there and run around a little bit.”
Asked if he thought he could play like himself if he didn’t return until the playoffs, Woodson chuckled and replied, “What do you think? Whenever the time comes, I know how to play football. That’s one thing you don’t (forget). Just because you have time off, doesn’t mean you forget how to play the game. I know how to play the game. I know the defense, and so when that time comes, I’ll be ready.
“I don’t think there’s any ideal situation. You just want to give in a game. It’s been way too long, watching too much football from the sidelines. Even though they’re great seats, I’d rather be playing.
“It’s been frustrating since it happened. I don’t think it’s been any more frustrating. Just not being able to play in football games and preparing and get ready to go out there and play at home, that’s hard for any player, especially me, I’ve been doing it for so long. You almost expect to be able to go out and play ball regardless of what the injury is. It just so happens with this type of injury you can’t just go out and play, so I think that’s just probably the most frustrating part of it. I look forward to getting back out there on the field.”
Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Woodson said he fully expects to return next season, as he has two years remaining on the five-year, $55 million extension he signed in September 2010. The deal included $21 million in advances and bonuses. Woodson’s 2013 and 2014 base salaries are each $6.5 million, and he is scheduled to receive $2.5 million roster bonuses in the spring of each year as well.
Asked if he’ll play in 2013, Woodson replied, “Oh, absolutely.” Asked if he expected it to be in Green Bay, he answered, “Until somebody tells me I’m not, this is where I plan on playing.”
It’s certainly conceivable that the Packers would, at the very least, approach him about a pay cut or contract restructuring, but Woodson said there hasn’t been any discussion of that yet.
“I haven’t had that conversation. If that conversation comes around, it comes around,” he said. “But as far as I know is, anything that I expect is that I’ll be a Green Bay Packer. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Nevertheless, Woodson has been impressed with the way safeties M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian have filled in for him at safety and how rookie cornerback Casey Hayward has taken over covering slot receivers in sub packages.
“They have been playing well. Looking at the whole team really, especially of course the defense and defensive backs,” Woodson said. “These guys are young players, they’ve been asked to do a lot. With the nickel and the dime and the safety position, you have those guys who have to come in and do what I’ve done for a long time. Those guys have come in and filled in well, and they've helped lead this team to a lot of wins and get us into the playoffs.
“This team has throughout this season found ways to win and we’ve found ourselves in the playoffs. I’m just thankful that when I do come back, I’ll have a chance to play in the playoffs.”
Woodson admitted that his collarbone will be on his mind as he gets ready to play in a game – whenever that might be – but said he thought those concerns would dissipate once the game started. He also pointed out that both times he broke his collarbone – he did so in Super Bowl XLV as well – he did it by hitting the ground, not an opposing player.
“Probably before the game, but I think when you get into the game, I think all of those thoughts kind of flee your mind and you get ready to play the game,” Woodson said. “I’ll think about it for sure before I get out there on the field, but once I get out there on the field, then it’s time to play football.”
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