ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- For Santana Moss, it all began with chasing cars.
"I used to stand on the corner and try to beat them to my grandma's house," Moss said. "I'd stand on the corner, and if I saw the car's getting ready to turn, I'd tried to beat it to the house before it goes up on the overpass."
On Sundays, Moss would stop chasing and wave at the Miami Dolphins' buses as they motored down the freeway for home games. Sure, chasing cars and jumping on roofs on lazy Miami days was fun, but all he really wanted to do was play football.
"I've always seen myself doing the same thing, and always seen myself being that guy," Moss said. "A lot of guys can't say they've seen themselves being that guy. I remember one of my coaches from elementary school told me, 'Ten years from now, I'll be hearing your name.' That's something that I took with me because I felt that way. That's something you always see a little different--when that guy has the drive and talent. That's something I had more. I had the drive, and talent came with it."
These days, defenders are chasing Moss. He is off to an incredible start with the Washington Redskins, with 33 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns, a pace that would give him an NFL-record 2,000 yards receiving. He had a career-high 173 yards last week against Kansas City, including a career-best 78-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass. He has a chance to pad the numbers big time this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, who have the league's worst pass defense.
"I don't think anybody could dream that a guy comes in one year and tries to get used to everybody, and for him to be that productive," coach Joe Gibbs said. "Obviously, we couldn't be more pleased or more impressed. And his attitude is great. He just loves being in practice. He's really pretty quiet. He doesn't say a whole lot. He just hustles himself silly trying to make plays."
The trade that sent Laveranues Coles to the New York Jets for Moss is turning out to be a steal. Moss is flourishing as the big-play weapon missing from the Redskins last season. He already has eight catches of 30 yards or more; the entire team had only nine such pass plays in all of 2004.
In short, he's in a zone, even though he and quarterback Mark Brunell are just learning how to work with each other. Moss missed a good portion of the offseason while renegotiating his contract, and Brunell wasn't the starter until the second week of the season in an offense that seemed destined for another year of struggles.
"I can't sit here and tell you, 'Aw, yeah, man, we just go out there and I give him the eye.' None of that. We just go out there and run what's called," Moss said. "When you go out there, you get in that kind of zone, you're just not even thinking about how long you've been with that guy. You just go out there and let it rip, and I think that's what we've been doing."
Moss isn't one for big pronouncements or grand philosophical statements. He was a bit overwhelmed with the joyful sentiments following his two fourth-quarter touchdown catches that beat archrival Dallas in Week 2. Now his stature has grown even more, and all he can do is chalk it up to an offense that throws him the ball more than the Jets did in his four years in New York.
"I've been making these plays all my life. It's just that you've got to play to the role of how the team uses you," Moss said. "When I was in New York, I played to the role. I'm over here; I'm getting more opportunities."
Moss is more passionate when talking about his brothers. Sinorice Moss is a receiver at Miami, and Adam Moss is a kicker at Florida International. He talks to them daily, and his 78-yard catch-and-run against the Chiefs came one day after Sinorice had a similar play against Temple.
"I think my little brother motivated me,'' Moss said. "Saturday, he took one for 92 yards. I was like, 'Hmmph, they always talk about you being in the shadow of me, you're doing things that I haven't done.' (On Sunday), I was thinking about him the whole run."