Slimmer Santana Moss Being Praised By Shanahan

ASHBURN, Va. -- Santana Moss is no fool. When free agency opened and the Washington Redskins signed two wide receivers (and nearly a third) in the first hour, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was sure his veteran wide receiver was paying attention.

"If you don't," Shanahan said bluntly, "you've got to be an idiot."

Shanahan spoke with Moss this offseason and was blunt with him too. After a disappointing season in which he caught just 46 passes for just 584 yards, the now-33-year-old Moss was plainly in jeopardy of being cut. His mission, his coach told him, was to lose weight.

"We talked to him in the offseason and said, 'Hey, this isn't you. If you want to be part of our football team, you've got to lose some weight,'" Shanahan said after the Redskins' final minicamp practice here Wednesday. "And he came back under 190 and he looks like a different guy. He's made a commitment, and you have to at that age. And he knew that if he didn't do that, he'd probably be gone."

Even with the new additions at wide receiver, the slimmed-down Moss still projects as one of the Redskins' starting wide receivers along with Pierre Garcon. Josh Morgan, the other new addition, is working his way back from a leg injury, and Leonard Hankerson, last year's impressive rookie, is coming back from a hip injury. Moss' experience, flexibility and improved conditioning pushes him ahead of the younger injury guys.

"Last season, some of the things I wanted to do, I would get winded sometimes," Moss said. "When you get older and you see some things with yourself and your game, you just want to find some things that can help you get better. I just felt I've been at my best when I'm in the 190s, so I got back there."

The best part about it, from the coaching staff's standpoint, is that Moss didn't just lose weight. He got in better overall shape.

"I feels he's more powerful," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "He's more explosive. He has a better understanding of the offense. To me, he came in possessed. He was ready to go. You saw it physically, and then to see him in the meeting rooms, he's been great. He's been so attentive and it's shown on the field. The guy's not thinking out there. He's confident in his speed. He feels confident in his knowledge of the offense, and there's no hesitation. He's been very exciting."

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