If his health holds up, Raiders safety Charles Woodson sees no reason to retire

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ALAMEDA, California — When he signed a one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders in March, safety Charles Woodson wasn't thinking much about playing beyond this season.

Now the 38-year-old sees no reason to stop — as long as he can get through the final five games healthy.

"No question," Woodson said Wednesday when asked about playing in 2015.

"I'm not thinking about going into the 40s but I don't know. I'll continue to say it: I feel great. Why that is, I have no clue. I'll play this season out and we'll see what happens after that."

Woodson was selected as the AFC defensive player of the week on Wednesday, in part for his milestone accomplishment last Thursday while helping the Raiders snap a 16-game regular-season losing streak that dated to 2013.

The 17th-year defensive back made nine tackles and had one sack in Oakland's 24-20 win over Kansas City, becoming the first player since at least 1982 to have 50 interceptions and 20 sacks.

The NFL didn't begin tracking sacks as an official statistic before the 1982 season.

It's the latest in a long list of honors for Woodson. He is tied for the team lead in tackles and has been a highly sought-after mentor for the team's younger players, including rookie quarterback Derek Carr.

Carr said that as an 8-year-old kid growing up, he used to pretend to be Woodson. Now he's a teammate of Woodson and he doesn't miss an opportunity to seek Woodson out for a quick talk.

"He gives me advice every time I ask," Carr said. "He comes up randomly and just, 'Hey, come talk to me for a second. I need you to do this, this and this.' OK, it's Charles Woodson. Whatever's going to help me get better and be great."

If nothing else, Woodson is a testament to work ethic and durability.

The fourth overall pick in 1998, Woodson started all 16 games for Oakland in 2013 and he's been just as stout this season. He's been on the field for all but 13 of the Raiders' 739 defensive snaps, second on the team behind cornerback Tarell Brown.

Woodson also filled in as a punt returner last week against the Chiefs after Denarius Moore fumbled away a possession in the second quarter.

Playing next season? Interim coach Tony Sparano sees no reason for Woodson to stop there.

"Nothing he does surprises me," Sparano said. "Usually they take a little time and they evaluate where they are and all that good stuff, but I know that he's a competitive guy, really competitive person, so it would not surprise me if he played into his 40s."

Woodson has repeatedly credited assistant defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson for his rapid development at safety this year after making a position change last season.

"The greatest thing for me this year is the addition of Marcus Robertson," Woodson said. "I've said that countless times already, but he's helped me see the game better from a safety position."

A year after finding the free agent market cold and devoid of much interest from the NFL's other 31 teams, Woodson will almost certainly attract more interest this offseason.

His preference, however, is to remain with the Raiders.

"It would mean a great deal to play here and get back into the playoffs and have a chance of going to the Super Bowl," Woodson said. "Coming into this season I had all the confidence in the world that we would be a much better team than what we are. I don't know what happens after this year but if I do decide to play again and it's here, I'm going to have the same feeling. It can turn fast."

The determining factor in not retiring, Woodson says, will be his health.

"I always thought it would depend on how my body felt at the end of the season," he said. "We still have five games left, and that's five games in the NFL where you're out there hitting and doing the things that you do."

Notes: RB Latavius Murray has been cleared to practice and worked out for the first time since being knocked out of last week's win against Kansas City with a concussion. His status for Sunday's game in St. Louis remains uncertain because he has not passed the full series of NFL-mandated concussion tests. ... LG Gabe Jackson was also back at practice after being excused Monday due to personal reasons. ... TE David Ausberry was placed on season-ending injured reserve for the second time in two years. DT Ricky Lumpkin was signed from the Raiders' practice squad to take Ausberry's spot on the 53-man roster. ... CB Jansen Watson was added to the practice squad. Jansen had been with Oakland during training camp before being waived on Aug. 24.


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