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American Football: Woodson out for the opener? just maybe

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posted on Aug, 24 2004 @ 09:31 AM
Charles Woodson's holdout probably will keep the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback out of the Oakland Raiders' season opener.
New Raiders coach Norv Turner expressed doubt Monday that Woodson, who still is away from the team, would be able to play when the Raiders start the season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 12. Turner said Sunday that he believed Woodson would be with the team before the preseason ended.

But there likely won't be enough time for Woodson to get up to speed with Oakland's new defense in time for the season opener.

"Obviously the longer it goes the harder it is," Turner said. "I've been in situations where a guy came in in a week and could contribute and play. But that was a situation where the guy had been in the same system and knew the calls, knew everything. Obviously when Charles gets here it's going to be harder. It's all new for him."

Woodson, tagged in February as Oakland's franchise player, has been unhappy with his current contract status and reportedly is seeking a longterm deal that would make him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL. He has refused to sign the team's one-year tender that would pay him $8.7 million.

Neither Woodson, his agents, nor Raiders senior personnel executive Mike Lombardi could be reached for comment on Monday. Turner has said repeatedly this preseason that he expects Woodson to be in uniform when the regular season begins but admitted Monday he has not spoken with the cornerback recently.

Oakland is switching from its traditional 4-3 defense to a 3-4 look under first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and Woodson has yet to be exposed to it. He did not take part in any of the team's offseason workouts or minicamps and has remained at his home in Houston where he was reportedly working out with a private trainer.

"I know he's played an awful lot so the physical part of it, he would be able to play right away," Turner said. "The big thing is the communication part of it, knowing the system and the checks and all the different things that are involved. In the secondary, one missed check could result in a big play and a big play at the wrong time could be a disaster.

"I think he understands and we all understand that he's not coming into a situation he's played in for four years. This is all going to be brand new to him. I think it'd be real hard to get him ready in a week."

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