Charles Woodson is feeling younger, hungrier. And it has a lot to do with all the old heads the Raiders brought in this offseason.

"I'm looking at the team, and just going off of how I feel healthwise," Woodson said. "I'm not looking at this being the last year."

He's 37 and entering his 17th NFL season. But his zeal has been rekindled.

A roster loaded with veterans has already brought a certain level of intensity and expedience to organized team activities. The proverbial bar, it seems, has been raised. That seems to have lit something in Woodson.

Last season, he was brought in partly to mentor young players. Now, he's a leader in the Raiders' movement to gain respectability through experience. And he's all too happy the youth movement has graduated to quality football. He's got that "watch this" vibe going.

Oakland Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson (24) works out at the team’s practice facility in Alameda, Calif. on Monday, June 2, 2014.
Oakland Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson (24) works out at the team's practice facility in Alameda, Calif. on Monday, June 2, 2014. (Kristopher Skinner, Bay Area News Group)

That's perhaps a distinct bonus overlooked in the Raiders' roster renovations. Yes, they got guys who have winning in their backgrounds. But they've also gotten a collection of players who have something to prove.

Quarterback Matt Schaub. Defensive linemen Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Tackle Donald Penn. Cornerback Carlos Rogers. They all have some extra motivation.

They lead a cast of players who were written off as too close to their expiration dates, not worth the coin. They were swapped out for younger options, marginalized for having too many notches on their belts.

Yet they believe they have plenty left in the tank. Their value has been disrespected, in their minds. And the Raiders have given them a chance to prove their worth.

How many wins does incentive plus know-how equal? Enough to get the Raiders a winning record? Into the playoffs?

It could prove to be the edge that catapults the Raiders to marked improvement this season.

"I know those guys feel like they had much more value than what their previous teams thought they had," Woodson said. "There's no doubt about it those guys have some extra incentive to come in here to show that they are still great players in this league."

Woodson himself said he was nervous after the Raiders took so long to re-sign him. He didn't explore any other options and was prepared to give retirement a long, hard look if the Silver & Black were hatin'.

But the Raiders kept signing pieces Woodson liked, kept adding credibility and pedigree to the roster. It only increased his desire to return.

And the practices thus far have validated his presumptions. Coach Dennis Allen said Monday the team is further along at this point than in previous years and that there is a better understanding of what they're trying to accomplish.

Woodson claims experience being undervalued is an NFL trend. He and his new cohorts on the Raiders have plans to take up the cause against that.

You know, for the old heads.

"The new guys that we brought in, we have guys that know how to get it done," Woodson said, indirectly explaining what happened with last season's 4-12 Raiders squad. "For me, I like to have a veteran presence. Bringing in guys like Tuck, bringing in guys like Woodley. Those are guys that know how to win and they know how to play the game of football. That's the difference you see out there, especially defensively, is having guys out there that have won."

As Hall of Famer Tim Brown has pointed out, the Raiders have taken this route before. The 2002 AFC champion Raiders were a collection of proven veterans bent to show they still had it. They combated youth with execution, bested fading skills with intelligence.

But can this team really make some noise? That kind of noise?

That's the question only the season can answer. Some key intangibles did come with the influx of previously productive players.

The need to teach how to play is less imperative -- a relief Woodson did a poor job at hiding. The understanding of all the little things winning takes is becoming a staple of the team's M.O. -- a bonus second-year linebacker Sio Moore said he's already noticed.

And the team's confidence is higher and based on something real, not just the typical hope virus that infects all rosters in June. The veteran additions have been there and done that, which produces a different kind of bravado.

"There ain't no ceiling," Woodson said when asked how good this team can be. "We're trying to bust through the ceiling.

"I look at the team and I feel like I have what I need from a team standpoint to get all the way there. Now, does that happen? Nobody knows until that time comes. But we've got players in there. If we all focus in, all our goals at the end of the season will be there."

Read Marcus Thompson II's blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/thompson. Contact him at mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ThompsonScribe.