Safety questions work ethic

Updated: November 12, 2003, 10:08 PM ET
Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Charles Woodson criticized his coach a few weeks ago, and now Oakland Raiders' teammate Rod Woodson is taking a shot at a few players.

"We've got some veterans who aren't working," Rod Woodson said Wednesday as the Raiders (2-7) prepared to play Minnesota (6-3) on Sunday.

"Some veterans I don't think understand it. They don't want to put in the work. I've been on three other teams and it's like that anywhere you go. Knowing how to play is attitude, that's not ability."

Woodson, in his 17th NFL season, wasn't naming names but it sounded like he was questioning the attitude of younger veterans, not the likes of stars Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.

Asked about Rod Woodson's comments, coach Bill Callahan gave his own explanation.

"I think there are players with inexperience and players being put in positions and roles that need to step up," Callahan said. "We need everyone to step up and we are counting on everyone to do that. Are there specific players? Not that I see."

This season has been particularly difficult for Woodson, still playing with a sore left knee after minor surgery Aug. 24 to repair a meniscus tear. He rarely practices and missed the second game of the season against Cincinnati.

The reeling Raiders would be in even more trouble if Woodson couldn't play. They already have beat up offensive and defensive lines and their top two quarterbacks -- MVP Rich Gannon and Marques Tuiasosopo -- have been lost for the season to injury. Gannon was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a shoulder injury that will require surgery.

And Oakland only has two other safeties on its roster.

Even though the Raiders are having a poor season, Woodson says he wants to return next year.

"I really don't want to end my career injured," he said. "I've been hurt since the third week of training camp, but I've been trying to stick it out for the sake of the team."

A few weeks ago, Charles Woodson called Callahan "stubborn," said the Raiders were falling apart and that the coach had lost control of the team.

Several players said they understand that teammates are dealing with the frustration in their own way.

"I think that this year has turned out to be just a year of a lot of letdowns and disappointment," eighth-year safety Anthony Dorsett said.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press