Oakland, CA – It’s a fresh start for a team that has endured a losing season for too long. A new head coach and staff along with some new faces made for a special day to kick off the first of a three-day mandatory mini camp. The excitement and energy is much different than of years past. Everyone is on board including, eighteen-year veteran Charles Woodson.
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“I think this is the first time in my 18-year career that I’ve been to every practice,” said Woodson. “Honestly, I sat down with Jack [Del Rio] before it all started and we talked about the importance and what he wanted from his team and him wanting me here. I honestly didn’t plan on being here every practice.”
Woodson plays a big part of this team, with his leadership and experience both on and off the field. Another new face is Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. After being a coach under Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, Norton decided it was time for a change and a new start. But what he did with the Seahawks defense has been hard to beat. Norton helped turn a young talented defense into the most feared unit in the NFL.
“Really excited,” Norton said when asked about the defense. “Guys are showing up every day. They have really bought into the style and the philosophy that I’m brining to them. I really feel like hey are giving themselves a chance to be really good.”
Taking a stroll down memory lane on how he played football at a high level led him to coaching at a high level. Norton brings an energy from start to finish. He expects the best out of his players and if he brings it everyday than the players will bring it everyday. This is exactly what the Raiders need to erase the past failures and focus on coaches who believe in success while seeing the talent standing in front of them.
“There’s great competition throughout the roster at different spots,” said Oakland’s head coach Jack Del Rio. “Our secondary is competing hard. Our linebackers are competing and working hard. Our defensive line; really it would be hard to find a position that doesn’t have great competition going on in it, so that part of it is exciting this time of year.”
The players feed off energy and excitement, Norton plans on bringing just that to a defensive unit that was over worked and under appreciated last season. Under Del Rio, the Raiders look forward to a new system that will explore a variety of ways to get better. It starts with an exuberant Norton whose determined to bring forth a new direction that results in success only.
“It’s fun. Different, just because of how fired up he is every day,” Woodson said. “Every morning when you walk in, he’s the one guy that you’re going to hear in the building. When you come in and you hear him, you almost have to be ready for work. It’s been great. I think the guys have responded to him and his style.”