ALAMEDA — Safety Charles Woodson was one of the younger players on the team the last time the Raiders played in a Super Bowl. The infusion of older, experienced players to this year's team has Woodson dreaming big once again.
"We're trying to bust through the ceiling," Woodson said Monday. "I look at the team and I feel like I have what I need from a team standpoint to get all the way there."
All the way there, of course, means winning a Super Bowl. The Raiders last won a Super Bowl at the close of the 1983 season. They last appeared in a Super Bowl in the 2002 season, when they got clobbered by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That Raiders team was led by well-traveled veterans such as quarterback Rich Gannon, safety Rod Woodson and wide receiver Jerry Rice, among others, that were added to complement players such as Charles Woodson.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie employed a similar approach this offseason, when he traded for veteran quarterback Matt Schaub and signed older free agents like running back Maurice Jones-Drew, wide receiver James Jones, and defensive linemen LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and Justin Tuck.
"I see a lot of similarities," Woodson said.
Upon signing with the Raiders last season, Woodson was cautious in his assessment of how many games he thought the Raiders would win and never mentioned the Super Bowl.
Already, Woodson said, he can see the changes in the way the Raiders practice. He said the communication is "intense" among the veteran players.
"You can tell that you got guys that have been in the game before and know how to win and know what it takes to win," Woodson said.
For a while, Woodson said, he wasn't sure if he was going to be asked back for another season in his second stint with the Raiders — his first go round lasted from 1998-2005.
Woodson, who turns 38 early this season, didn't receive any calls from other teams, as he did last season, when he met with the Denver Broncos and 49ers before he signed with the Raiders.
"My heart was set on coming back here," Woodson said. "If that didn't happen, then I would have had to weigh those options whether or not something else could turn up."
Woodson said he also contemplated the possibility that his long, illustrious NFL career might have ended.
"I was getting a little bit nervous, sitting at home, trying to figure out what's going to happen," Woodson said, "because, the reality was, if it didn't happen here, that could have been it."
One thing is certain, Woodson doesn't feel as if his age is a detriment. His body also feels great despite a 16-year career to this point.
"I'm not looking at this being the last year," Woodson said.
Instead, Woodson is looking at the Raiders returning to the playoffs for the first time since he initially donned a silver-and-black uniform.