The Oakland Raiders have built a talented defense around cornerback Charles Woodson, last season's NFL defensive rookie of the year. Yet, it seems Woodson would like to be built into the offense as well.
As a rookie, Woodson became the first Raiders defensive back to start every game since Jack Tatum in 1971, and Woodson finished with 64 tackles, 21 passes defensed and 5 interceptions.
Those numbers might have been better, but the team's other cornerback, former all-pro Eric Allen, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the middle of the campaign. The Raiders were 7-3 and gave up 17.2 points per game before Allen's injury. Without Allen, opponents threw away from Woodson -- and the Raiders went 1-5 and gave up more than 30 points per game.
Still, the Raiders finished fifth in the league in total defense last season after finishing last in that category in 1997. Just the opposite happened with his college team, Michigan: The Wolverines gave up 18.1 points and 368 yards per game last season; Woodson helped them hold opponents to 8.9 points and 206 yards per game -- and win a national title -- in 1997.
Now, as he did at Michigan, Woodson would like to play some on offense.
In his last year at Michigan, Woodson caught a touchdown pass, returned a punt for a touchdown and even completed a pass. Woodson said he will continue to ask to play offense this year but told reporters he "would not complain and be a spoiled brat" if Coach Jon Gruden opts not to use him there.
And there will enough for him to do on defense, even with Allen's return. The Raiders open the season with road games against NFC powers Green Bay and Minnesota -- meaning Woodson may match up against Packers WR Antonio Freeman and Vikings WR Randy Moss.