Woodson likes Packers' new defensive scheme

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Associated Press
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
— For years, aggressive man-to-man coverage was the calling card of the Green Bay Packers' secondary. They'd get in a receiver's face at the line of scrimmage, then stick to his hip all the way down the field.

It worked for Charles Woodson, who had 19 interceptions over three seasons in the Green Bay Packers' old defensive scheme. So it stands to reason that he and fellow standout cornerback Al Harris might have been hesitant to embrace a new defensive scheme that will change the way they play.

But a few practices into training camp, new defensive coordinator Dom Capers has earned a stamp of approval from Woodson.

"There is a lot to it," Woodson said. "You've definitely got to be on your Ps and Qs as far as making calls and making sure everybody's on the same page. But when everything's clicking, it's a very, very fun defense."

While the Packers were known for their press coverage, Woodson said the majority of his interceptions came when he was allowed to give receivers a little bit of a cushion something he'll do more this season, as the Packers mix in more zone coverage and ask their cornerbacks to line up a few yards back from the line of scrimmage.

"You get a chance to read a quarterback a lot more, look at the offensive sets a lot more, sit back there and read those type of things," Woodson said. "A lot of mine came from playing off and just being able to read receivers coming out of their breaks and that sort of thing. I have no problem with that, and I don't think anybody else does."

Woodson has been all over the field in the first week of camp, and Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings smiles at the thought of what Woodson might do to opposing offenses this year.

"It's really working to his advantage, because it's allowing him to read the formations a little bit more," Jennings said. "Whereas when he had to press a lot, he couldn't really read as much as he wanted to, he had to pretty much pick and choose what he wanted to read."

And Jennings said that will make the most of Woodson's football knowledge.

"Charles, he's a unique corner," Jennings said. "He's very smart, very savvy. Anything you throw at him, he's going catch it, and he's going to learn it and he's going to make it his own."

Jennings acknowledges that the transition might be more drastic for Harris, who relishes playing man-to-man press coverage. But in the end, Jennings believes Harris will be better too.

"Al really wants to get in a (receiver's) face, and now he has to kind of read, read the formations and things like that," Jennings said. "It's going to make him overall a better corner. It makes us work against the off coverage, because we weren't really getting that a lot."

All offseason, Woodson has heard talk that the Packers don't have the right personnel to play a 3-4 defense with zone coverage assignments. And he doesn't buy it.

"I can play football," Woodson said. "I don't know (anything) about not being able to play this just because I've been pressing. I won't speak for (Harris), but I'm sure he feels the same way."

Woodson says that applies to the Packers' defensive linemen and linebackers, too.

"I think we are better," Woodson said. "I know there's been a lot of questions about our personnel, and do we have the right people to fit the defense, but I think we do."

That's not to say he and his teammates didn't struggle with the early stages of the transition.

"When I came in for minicamp, my head was spinning," Woodson said. "It was, of course, all new terminology, and then also totally a new defense. I didn't have a clue."

Now Woodson said he and the rest of the defense are up to speed.

"We know what we're doing, for the most part," he said. "We're just going to go out there and have fun with it."

Last updated: 11:14 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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