NFC East: Bobby Wade

Moss to Beast: '09 was my best season

August, 6, 2010
ASHBURN, Va. -- The fact that Santana Moss is one of the most dangerous downfield receivers in the league didn't really matter in 2009. By the time Moss reached top speed, quarterback Jason Campbell was usually in the clutches of a defensive end. And the fact that Jim Zorn had his play-calling duties stripped a few weeks into the season only served to make things more confusing.

That's why I was a little surprised Friday when Moss informed me that '09 might have been his best season as a pro. He averaged a career-low 12.9 yards per reception and only had three touchdowns. So I gave him a confusing look.

"I know it sounds crazy, but even when the going got tough, I was able to stand strong," said Moss. "I told Michael Irvin the same thing recently. I was nicked up really bad, but I just refused to fold my tail and give in to all the misery. I think it was important for the younger guys like Malcolm [Kelly] and Devin [Thomas] to see that it wasn't getting to me."

Moss said he kept telling his young teammates that something good was going to come out of the chaotic season. And when he heard the news about Mike Shanahan being hired, he simply looked at Kelly.

"I just kept telling them that something great was going to happen here," said Moss. "Things had gotten really dull around here and then 'boom!' the storm hit. Now, there's a completely different feeling about this team."

New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan asked Moss to watch film of Andre Johnson with the Texans. Shanahan had coached Johnson in Houston and watched him become one of the elite receivers in the league.

"He told me that some guys could only do one thing, but he said I could be like Andre and play inside or outside," said Moss on Friday. "I was fighting all these double and triple teams last year, but Kyle's not going to let that happen."

Moss has never been one to complain about not having a better complementary receiver. In fact, he spent 10 minutes bragging on veterans Joey Galloway, Roydell Williams and Bobby Wade.

"I think it's my job to get open," he said. "I've never looked at it like I need someone to help me get open."

Moss joined Donovan McNabb in Phoenix, Ariz., last month for "Hell Week" workouts. He says the chance to bond that week has given the receiving corps a head start coming into camp. I'll have much, much more from Moss in my upcoming Redskins Camp Confidential.

On the radar: Skins' WR questions

May, 27, 2010
NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

In case you've been trapped under a rock or some other impediment recently, you know that Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss has been connected to a Canadian doctor charged with supplying and smuggling human growth hormones. Moss hasn't addressed the topic publicly, but his teammates and head coach seem convinced that he'll be cleared of any wrongdoing. But while it looks like there's no threat of criminal charges, we all know about the swift hand of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's justice. If he determines that Moss did anything wrong, the receiver could face a suspension.

[+] EnlargeDevin Thomas
Larry French/Getty ImagesDevin Thomas started to produce in the second half of last season, including a seven-catch, two-TD game against the Saints.
And it's not like the Redskins are flush with proven receivers right now -- unless you count a guy like Joey Galloway who has been proving himself for 16 seasons in the league. Galloway's been on the downhill side of his career for at least the past four seasons, so it's unlikely he could turn back the clock and become a consistent deep threat. Moss led the Skins with 70 catches for 902 yards and three touchdowns last season, but his 12.3 yards per catch is a pretty benign number. That's why it's finally time for the faces of the '08 rookie class to show some consistency. Either Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas -- perhaps both -- need to step forward and make plays for Donovan McNabb.

The good news is that McNabb has had some success when surrounded with pedestrian receivers. In his pre-Terrell Owens years in Philly, he threw to the likes of Freddie Mitchell and the immortal Todd Pinkston. So chucking the ball to Bobby Wade, Thomas and Kelly might not look that bad to him. Plus, he'll have the talented combo of Chris Cooley and Fred Davis at tight end.

But even if Moss clears the Dr. Anthony Galea hurdle, the Redskins still need for Thomas and Kelly to emerge. I think fans are sick of hearing about their potential. Kelly won the starting job at the start of last season, but Thomas was the better receiver down the stretch. Thomas only had 25 catches, but three of them went for touchdowns and 16 went for first downs.

"Devin Thomas has been hurt through most of the minicamps and OTAs," Mike Shanahan told reporters last week. "It's good to get Devin back and watch him in these OTAs because I didn't get a chance to watch him except for the first day in our minicamp. Malcolm, it's like all of the receivers, learning the system, getting the chance to show their skills. It's going to be an interesting question here over the next two months, three months. We got a number of wide receivers that are competing for a position. I like what I have seen thus far."

If the commissioner decides to suspend Moss, don't be shocked if Shanahan looks to T.O. for help. We simply don't have enough drama in the NFC East, so it's important to reunite McNabb and his old buddy. As you know, their appearance together on a recent reality show laid the foundation for reconciliation. I have to stop now because I'm getting emotional.