The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause reported the following via Twitter:
McCarthy: Charles Woodson is cleared to play.— Mike Vandermause (@MikeVandermause) January 1, 2013
All-Pro safety Nick Collins retired this offseason after sustaining a serious neck injury at the beginning of the 2011 season, and Woodson switched from cornerback to safety to fill the gap in the Green Bay secondary. The former Defensive Player of the Year finished the regular season with 25 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble in seven games.
Without its leader, the Packers secondary was still able to be productive, and finished 11th in passing yardage allowed. This is a massive improvement over last season, when the group set the all-time record for most yards allowed through the air.
An improved Green Bay pass defense will likely get better for the postseason with Woodson back in the lineup. In addition, the eight-time Pro Bowler makes a significant contribution in stopping the run and is also dangerous when blitzing.
The Packers also had to cope without star outside linebacker Clay Matthews for four games this season due to a hamstring injury. But Matthews has been back in the lineup since Week 15, and the defense is getting healthy at exactly the right time.
Green Bay’s attempt to win a second Super Bowl in three seasons will start with a rubber match against the Vikings, and the team’s chances to achieve postseason success are certainly better with Woodson back on the field.