Moss gathers passes for big start with 3-1 'Skins Print
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Wednesday, 01 October 2008 12:21
NFL Headline News

 ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -The Santana Moss of 2008 is looking much like the Santana Moss of 2005, a bundle of energy and swagger gathering passes to make plays for a Washington Redskins team that is one of the early surprises of the NFL.
The reasons are plentiful. He's healthy after taking a long offseason football break. He took up taekwondo, attending classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays because he ``didn't want to be a couch potato.'' He's lining up in a different spot on the field in an attacking offense better suited to his skills.
And, oh yeah, he finally has a feel for quarterback Jason Campbell.
that familiar touch with him because I didn't want to be out here thinking on the job.''
It seems odd to hear Moss express that sentiment. He and Campbell both became Redskins in 2005, and Campbell became the starting quarterback in the 10th game of the 2006 season. It's not like they've been strangers, but it might have seemed that way on Sundays because hamstring, groin and heel injuries limited Moss' ability to practice over the past two seasons.
``I always felt like I can get used to a quarterback quicker just because I'm going to stand in his face and talk to him,'' receiver Antwaan Randle El said. ``And that's not Tana's deal. Tana's not going to be on the guy. He's just going to say, 'If you see me, give me the ball.' Some guys it takes a little longer.''
This season, Moss is second in the NFL in yards receiving (421) and tied for third in receptions (27). He's caught as least five passes in each of the first four games, his longest such streak since his Pro Bowl season of 2005, when he set the franchise single-season yardage record (1,483) teaming with Mark Brunell.
him breaking a route before he even does it.''
Part of the rapport might have been Moss figuring out Campbell's quarterbacking style. At one point last season, after watching Campbell get pounded repeatedly in the pocket, Moss started picking on his teammate for not running more.
Campbell told Moss that he thought receivers preferred to have a quarterback who throws more and looks to run less.
``He said, 'Utilize it - sometimes we can get open off of it,''' Campbell said. ``I lost 10-12 pounds, so I guess I'm trying to be what he wants me to be.''
New coach Jim Zorn's practice antics - playing dodgeball and throwing big pads at the quarterbacks while in a passing stance - have helped Campbell's mobility as well. The drill paid off when Campbell dodged the pass rush to hit Moss for the biggest play thus far of the season, the game-winning 67-yard touchdown toss in the Week 2 win over the New Orleans Saints.
``Coach Z throws bags at him and they're doing those 'Matrix' kind of moves out there, it comes through in the game and you see them making play after play when guys are hanging on them,'' Moss said. ``He's just being phenomenal right now.''
break at the end of football season. He did taekwondo to keep in shape but otherwise didn't pound his body the way he used to. It's helped him regain his explosiveness.
``I really truly believe that right now it's showing,'' Moss said. ``It's giving me that feedback that I want.''
Zorn also took one look at Moss and decided the receiver was in the wrong spot. Under former coach Joe Gibbs, Moss was a flanker lining up a yard or two off the line of scrimmage.
``That takes away a little bit of Santana's threat of accelerating down the field,'' Zorn said. ``If you have him on the line of scrimmage, you get him on the defender a little bit quicker, and just a yard makes a huge difference.''
Moss also likes the fact that Zorn has him catching more passes on underneath routes, which sets up defenders for the big play downfield - such as the 53-yard catch in last week's victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium, where Moss enjoyed three 100-yard games in his four games with the Redskins.
Given that the offense is new to everyone, Moss thinks that performance was just scratching the surface.
``We're still learning; we're still getting better every week,'' Moss said. ``Right now, for what we have grasped of the offense, I think we're doing well.''
 

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