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Thread: Moss has double the fun

  1. #1
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    Moss has double the fun

    Wednesday, August 4, 2004

    By RANDY LANGE
    STAFF WRITER



    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - Fans might feel comfort and relief at seeing Santana Moss give up those dastardly, dangerous duties as the Jets' main punt returner and focus on the high life as Gang Green's next top-shelf wide receiver.

    But that's not how Moss and the Jets feel about it.

    "What I want to accomplish," Moss said at training camp Tuesday, "is to be one of the best receivers that play the game - and one of the best punt returners that play the game."

    "No," special teams coach Mike Westhoff said, "we're not giving that up."

    Westhoff doesn't buy the common wisdom that punt-returning is only for non-starters and expendables.

    "I don't think it's a hard thing for a guy to handle both things," he said in the heat of the noonday sun outside the Jets' Hofstra University dining hall. "Deion Sanders, he was a pretty good defensive back, last I checked."

    But Westhoff said the Jets can protect their Pro Bowl-quality wideout in a couple of ways. One is with a return team in front of Moss that Westhoff feels is improving with the infusion of all that young, fast defensive talent.

    Another is with a rule change that Westhoff said "is a really good rule - in fact, it's my rule, so it actually is good." He proposed a change to NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira that has been adopted for this season: When a fair catch is signaled and the ball hits the ground first, it cannot be advanced.

    In the past, the fair catch was waved off and the ball was fielded and advanced at the returner's peril.

    "Santana had several brilliant plays at the end of the year, in some of the 'weather' games we played in," Westhoff said. "Here comes a crummy punt, he goes over and tries to fair-catch it, but it hits the ground and he can't get to it. But the good play he made was he fielded the ball, didn't let it roll down to the 2-yard line."

    As far as Moss' health is concerned, the new rule removes the urgency of him trying to return an off-line punt and opening himself up to a full-speed blast from an opposing cover man.

    And as far as his statistics are concerned, such kicks will no longer be counted as one return for no yards. Moss had two such returns against the Giants and two in the snow and ice vs. Pittsburgh. Don't count those, and his average would have risen from 11.1 yards per return to 12.7.

    But even that paled in comparison to Moss' sparkling 16.5 average the season before. Asked if last season was what he wanted it to be as a returner, he said: "No, we all know that. I tried to give us every chance to have a chance on offense. So when they were kicking those punts deep into our red zone, I just either fair-caught it or got what I could get. I'm not Superman; I'm just Santana, and I'm going to go out there and carry out my assignment."

    Another reason Moss could get more protection this time around is because he may be paired with new budding star Justin McCareins in two-deep return alignments. McCareins was the Titans' main returner last season with an 11.4 average - and a 58-yard touchdown - on 29 returns.

    "We won't do it all the time," Westhoff said, "but we'll do it a little bit."

    Combine that one-two punch with the one-two that the Jets expect from Moss-McCareins in the offense, and opponents could be left reeling.

    "Now that I know I have a guy that they're going to have to pay attention to and then have another guy in the slot who's back [Wayne Chrebet], it just might make it a lot easier for me to get open," Moss said. "I'll free them up, and then when it's my time, they'll free me up."

    Moss steadfastly declines to predict how explosive he can be this year, either receiving or returning, but you can read between the lines.

    "I don't have goals - I tell y'all that every year," he said. "Santana's trying to get better than the previous year."

    E-mail: lange@northjersey.com

  2. #2
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    MOSS: NO STOPPIN' ME NOW

    By STEVE SERBY
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    DARE TO BE GREAT: Santana Moss, Pro Bowl alternate last season, says he's ready to take his game - and Jets - to next level.
    - AP

    August 4, 2004 -- He spent his first two seasons on the runway. Santana Moss began his Jet takeoff last year. It is time for him to be out of this world.
    Chad Pennington believes Justin McCareins might be a faster Keyshawn Johnson. The franchise quarterback is primed for his contract year. Wayne Chrebet is back. Herm Edwards wants more nerve from Paul Hackett.

    Fly, Santana, fly. Perhaps to Hawaii.

    "I want to be a great player," Moss says. "So, therefore, I go out and practice every day like I'm in a game situation so I can be that player. Everybody says it to me, 'Hey man, Pro Bowl year.' I hear that, and it motivates me, but I never put that on me.

    "It's never up to you. All you can do is do what you can do. I'm not the guy that's throwing the ball to Santana. I'm the guy that's getting open for that guy to throw the ball to Santana. So, therefore, I go out and be the best I can be so I can help the team, and then when that individual stuff comes, it's gonna come."

    It's coming.

    Said Ray Mickens, "DB's are gonna be a lot more scared to go up against him."



    Said Herm Edwards, "He knows how to play fast now."

    Moss' mere presence raises the terror level to red.

    "Last year when it got to know who was getting the ball, people paid attention to one person every now and then, which was good," Moss said. "I appreciate it 'cause it helped me how to get open in zones and how to get open when I got somebody running under my back and having somebody over the top.

    "It was good, but now that I know that I have a guy that they're gonna have to pay attention to and then have another guy in the slot who's back, [Chrebet], it just might make it a lot easier for me to get open, get a little more one-on-one. I'm thinking early I always think the worst they're gonna still come at me and try to double me and take me out of the game. I'll free them up, and then when it's my time, they'll free me up."

    Moss, Pro Bowl alternate, had 74 catches for 1,105 yards and 10 TDs and was the Jets' MVP even though Pennington started only nine games.

    "I love his ball, I love the way they come in, I love how he sees what we see at the same time," Moss said. "I don't want to go nowhere, and I hope he's here forever."

    His punt return average slipped from 16.5 (two TDs) to 11.1.

    "My whole concern was knowing that we didn't have the best of field position, I didn't want to take no chances," Moss said. "I tried to give us every chance to have a chance on offense. I'm not Superman. I'm just Santana and I'm gonna go out there and carry out my assignment."

    His nightmare, injury-ravage rookie season is a distant memory. He seems happier.

    "OK. Let me take this leg from you and tell me how happy you are," Moss joked. "What I do is run. What I've always been doing in my life since day one, you wanna go get tapes from my mom, I ran, I played around, I had fun. When that's taken away from you, man, what can you do?

    "When you're a thousand miles away from home, you don't know who you have, what you have. You ask so many times, 'what can I do?' to yourself, but you understand that you can't do nothing but keep pushing, keep pushing, and when that day comes, it's gonna come."

    It's coming.

  3. #3
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    Jesus christ i am so happy the season is so close...

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