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In Unfamiliar Situation, Santana Moss Trying To Stand Out

By ZAC BOYER | | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – When the Washington Redskins signed free agent receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan in early March, Santana Moss began considering what role he would fill for the team this fall.


And when veteran Jabar Gaffney was released last month, Moss began to wonder if he’d have a role at all.

Moss, who turns 33 on Friday, led the Redskins in receiving yards every year since arriving in Washington from the New York Jets prior to the 2005 season – a streak that ended when he missed four games with a broken hand this past fall.

With so many new, and young, receivers now on the team, Moss wanted to be proactive. When he reported for the beginning of the team’s voluntary offseason program in mid-April, he had lost 15 pounds and said was in better shape in the spring than he had been in several years.

“All that can do for your team and do for you is motivate you to be on the same level,” Moss said last week. “That’s all it does, really.”

Garcon, 25, arrived from Indianapolis and is planning on being the team’s top receiver. Morgan, 26, came from San Francisco to push Leonard Hankerson, a rookie in 2011, for the other starting role.

That leaves it up to the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Moss to find some way to earn time playing the flanker, split end and slot receiver positions this fall.

“You’re gonna get guys coming in here year after year from college or other teams that have talent, and when you get the guys that have played on the level that those two guys have played on, teams are gonna want that,” Moss said. “It brings that depth to our team that we have more skill guys on the outside and also can beef up our core to make everybody know that if you’re going to be out here, you have to match that talent level.”

Moss spent time during the offseason looking at what he had accomplished over the past three or four years. Statistically, he was successful; even after missing time last fall, he has still averaged over 900 yards and nearly five touchdowns a season.

“I just want to get back to what I do,” Moss said. “I mean like, the last four years I probably played a little heavier than I had been. Yeah, I still played at a high level, but I could tell there was certain things that I wasn’t doing, and I just wanted to get back to that.”

Moss should have opportunities. With rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III’s ability to extend plays, the Redskins’ offense should look a bit different than it has in previous seasons.

It doesn’t hurt that Griffin said Moss “was a guy that influenced [him] to play football,” and whether it be through workouts or the practices the team has had, the quarterback thinks Moss “is not old.”

“Just the way he’s played the game and how he plays the game – it’s really good,” Griffin said.

With an eye on doing something special this season, Moss is hoping he’s really good, too.

“I think when it comes down to you being who you are, and the decisions that you have to make as a player, as an athlete, as a pro, what do you want to get out of this?” Moss said. “I had just seen myself, watching myself and slowly critiquing myself, just from the last three or four years, and I said I had to give a little extra to see what I could do.”