Santana Moss was slowed by a hamstring injury last year with the New York Jets and as a result didn't have the best season in his four-year NFL career. But in the playoffs, Moss showed that he's of the league's fastest and most dangerous players.
In the Jets' 20-17 overtime win at San Diego, Moss had four receptions for a team-high 100 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown catch from Chad Pennington. At Pittsburgh, in a game New York lost 20-17 in overtime, Moss broke through with an electrifying 75-yard punt return for a score.
"Here's what jumps out at you on film," Joe Gibbs said Thursday of the player the Redskins obtained in the trade for Laveranues Coles. "When Santana hits the ground with the ball, he's extremely quick and elusive."
"We went back to the 2003 film, and we even went all the way back through his entire career. We watched every catch and every play he's made in the NFL. We became convinced that he's a big-play guy. Last year we struggled with big plays and I think Santana will bring that to our team."
In his four years with the Jets, Moss, a 5-10, 185-pound wide receiver, posted 151 catches for 2,416 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Asked about his speed, Moss remarked: "I have some pretty good wheels. I can run. I don't consider myself the fastest. There are a lot of guys in this league who are fast. I consider myself a guy on the football field where there is no telling how fast I can go."
In his introductory press conference at Redskin Park, Moss stressed that he's a team player first and foremost. He also recognizes that he has an opportunity in Washington to establish himself as an elite receiver.
"In the past, every time opportunity's knocked, I've been able to come through," said the 25-year old Miami native. "One thing I want everyone to know: I'm going to come here and give my all. That's the only way I know how to do it."
Moss continued: "Yes, it is a fresh start. Change is always good. I had fun in New York. I really learned how to be a pro in New York. Coach [Herm] Edwards was wonderful in making sure his guys really knew what they were there for.
"Really, I came into the NFL pretty much at a professional level. I came from the University of Miami (Fla.), where we had coaches who taught us how to prepare ourselves and taught us how to be ready at the NFL level."
With the 2005 Redskins, Moss will be one of four former Miami Hurricanes expected to be key players. As such, he joins Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor and Mike Barrow."
The mission for the Redskins is to rebuild their corps of wide receivers, now that Coles has been sent back to the Jets and Rod Gardner has been given permission to seek a trade. In Washington, Moss joins former New England Patriot David Patten and Redskins holdovers James Thrash, Taylor Jacobs and Darnerien McCants.
Moss had his breakthrough for the Jets in 2003, with 74 catches for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns. That was the first time in his NFL career he replaced Coles; 2005 figures to be the second.
"It's just so crazy. I thought of that two nights ago," said Moss. "When he left when I was in New York, I really had a chance to step up and do some big things. Now I'm coming over here to Washington and he's leaving and going back over there."
Added Moss: "I pretty much let my play speak for itself. I'm going to work to do the best I can do for this team.''
It's an open question as to how much time Moss will be spending as a punt returner for his new team.
"I was kidding Santana about running back kicks and punt returns--he reminds me of Darrell Green," Gibbs said. "I always felt like if we put Darrell back there we could hit a home run, but we were afraid to put him back there because he could get hurt.
"In Santana's case, he's a terrific return guy. He has 88 returns in the NFL for over 1,000 yards. [Redskins special teams coach] Danny Smith is probably going to talk to him about maybe running back a kick for us every now and then and trying to bail us out."