ASHBURN – When Santana Moss was first approached with the idea of serving primarily as the Washington Redskins’ slot receiver this season, he thought about the players before him who had too much pride to agree to such a change.
“I feel like whatever your team gives you to be successful, that’s all you can really accept, and so therefore, I just take it in stride,” Moss said. “I want to win more than anything, so when something was brought upon on me like that, the first thing I said is, ‘If that’s gonna help the team, then I’m all for it.’”
Moss led the Redskins in receiving yards each year from 2005-10, serving almost entirely as their No. 1 receiver. With the offseason acquisitions of Pierre Garçon and Joshua Morgan and an expanded role for second-year receiver Leonard Hankerson, Moss has been shifted more to playing exclusively in the slot.
Through four games this season, Moss has caught 10 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown while playing just over half of the Redskins’ offensive plays. A year ago, when he caught 46 passes for 584 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games, he was on the field roughly 80 percent of time.
“I feel it’s gone as good as it can go, you know?” Moss said. “When I play football, I play football. I don’t look at it as just making catches, [but] as being a football player. My job is to go out there and block. My job is to go out there and clear out sometimes. My job is to go out there and catch the balls when they come my way, and thus far, I’ve been handling it well.”
Moss made an effort to get in greater shape during the offseason, shedding nearly 15 pounds to get his playing weight in the low-190s. He wanted to feel quicker and more explosive in the new role, which has seen him running more crossing routes and catching more passes underneath.
But his veteran presence and ability was known Sunday in the Redskins’ 24-22 victory at Tampa Bay when quarterback Robert Griffin III found him for a crucial seven-yard gain with approximately 10 seconds remaining to set up a the game-winning 41-yard field goal.
“This is a situation where they want to put me in to make me better, to be able to give them a little more, so when you have that situation, you take it with a smile and you say, ‘Hey, I’ve been doing it for so long, let me go out there and do it and then have the help,’” Moss said. “Now you have so many guys out there that can help you, you kind of sit back and say, ‘Hey, when my time comes, it comes.’”
Even when considering his pride – a 12-year veteran in his eighth season with the same team – Moss doesn’t feel slighted.
“It’s a blessing to be able to still be playing and to go out here and compete at this level the way I can compete,” Moss said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys that came in with me, seen a lot of guys that did it before me, that can’t compete at this level right now and that’s not here at this level playing. When you want to think about pride, you put all that to the side, because you’ve seen how those guys handled their situation.
“That’s the best way I look at it. I learned from other people’s mistakes and you know, there’s only a few of us that are fortunate enough to keep going, and I consider myself one of those guys. At the end of the day, you know, if somebody brings something to you and it’s gonna benefit you, you take it and not try to throw it back at them because you know what the outcome could be.”