9-11-03, 7:30 a.m
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Marvin Lewis had a mixed reaction.
He knew not having to play against Rod Woodson is going to make things easier for his offense Sunday in Oakland as Woodson recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery for a meniscus injury.
But Lewis also enjoys watching the 38-year-old Woodson play because it yields some fond memories. They went to two Super Bowls together and they won the last one when Lewis called Baltimore's defense. With a little help from Woodson.
"He's able to help other guys mentally," Lewis said. "He's not afraid to bring guys with him. He's not afraid to put his neck on the line. At a pressure point in the game, he wanted you to put the responsibility of the game on his shoulders."
Lewis has never forgot one particular game. Woodson told him it was the worst game he had ever played, but Lewis remembered what happened late on fourth-and-six.
"I was ready to make one call and they talked me into calling a blitz," Lewis said. "They knocked the ball down at the line and I told him, 'Yeah, but as bad as you played. . .',With 1:30 left, to talk me into that blitz, that says a lot about the person.
"I can't tell you how many times we would come to a critical point in the game and he would suggest I call a certain blitz," Lewis said, "and not necessarily the one he was blitzing on, but the one he was on their best receiver as a safety. . .He was always up to the challenge."
Lewis doubts Woodson is going to go into coaching because of the time it would take away from his children, but he thinks he'd be a good one.
Lewis also has high regard for another Raider golden oldie in their controversial linebacker, 37-year-old Bill Romanowski. They met when Romanowski was just out of Boston College in 1988 and Lewis was a coaching intern for the 49ers.
"They were teaching him to play outside linebacker. They were experimenting with Charles Haley to move him from defensive end to outside linebacker that particular summer," Lewis said. "Keena Turner was injured at that time, so he really wasn't practicing all of the time. So Romo was getting a lot of reps in the snaps. I can remember learning the defense as he was at the same time."
Lewis sees Romanowski's four Super Bowl rings and his eight conference championship games, and he figures that's enough said.
"He's obviously been a tremendous pro who is a competitive guy out there on Sundays," Lewis said. "It's a good challenge for us. You have to respect a guy who, wherever he goes, they win, and he's on championship teams. You have to respect that."
POSTS AND PUNTS: The Titans, without Joe Nedney for the rest of the year, didn't sign former Bengals kicker Neil Rackers after they worked him out with Gary Anderson and Brett Conway. The nod went to the 44-year-old Anderson, who, by the way, was a rookie in 1982 when Rackers was in first grade. Rackers was reportedly supposed to have surgery Tuesday, but his agent told "The
Tennessean," another doctor told him he didn't need the procedure right away. He left for Tennessee to work out instead. . .
RT Willie Anderson (hamstring) and ROLB Brian Simmons (rib) are listed as probable for Sunday's game in Oakland. Simmons dressed for Wednesday's practice in full pads. Anderson did not. . .RB Rudi Johnson (thigh), OL Victor Leyva (chest muscle), and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring) are out for Sunday. . .
Raiders WR Jerry Porter (abdominal) is probably going to be downgraded to doubtful Thursday, said Raiders coach Bill Callahan, calling Porter, "looking doubtful," for Sunday. . .
It's Lewis' first trip to the West Coast and his first chance to implement Friday travel for a team that has always left the day before a game in California, Washington, or Arizona.
"It gives us a good opportunity for us to rest," said Lewis, who also wants to get family obligations out of the way Friday night for a roster that lists seven players with California hometowns. "If you (leave) the day before, you tend, it seems, to get a little tired when you wake up the next day. You almost have more time to rest and we'll try to use it to our advantage." . . .
Lewis used the age of some of the Raiders' top players (the 38-year-old Woodson, 40-year-old Jerry Rice, 37-year-old Tim Brown, 37-year-old Rich Gannon, 37-year-old Bill Romanowski) to point out the differences in the two teams' mentality. "That was no secret," said Lewis of the Bengals' lack of off-season workouts.
"You're talking about guys that train all year round," Lewis said. "That's different to this building. That's the difference our football team will be in the future. You're talking about these pros that have trained all year round all their lives, which most professional athletes do. You just don't show up here at the end of April and say, 'Well, now I'm going to get ready for the football season.' These guys take a couple of weeks off after the season and then get back at it. Rod Woodson, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Romo. I don't know Rich Gannon, but if you look at the other guys, I know those guys and that's how they do it and that makes a big difference."