Can Moss Deliver In Year Two?

FOXBORO, Mass -- WR Randy Moss took a few minutes to speak with the media on Friday, the team's last day of training camp. After setting the NFL on fire last year, what does Moss have up his sleeve for 2008?

In 2007 Randy Moss set the NFL record for most touchdown receptions (23) in a single season making it look easy at times. The old record (22) was held by former San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice. The media hyped his performance, fans gushed over him and fantasy football players bragged about his performances. While Moss isn't one to sound off to the media about how great he is because of the accomplishments, he is proud of what the team has been able to accomplish while he's been on the roster.

Moss returned to the Patriots after agreeing on a three-year $27 million deal with $15 million in guarantees. The decision to return was fueled by his desire to have another chance at obtaining a Super Bowl championship ring, which has eluded the 11-year veteran. At the time he re-signed Moss posted a note on his own website. "I'm ready to get back," the note said. "We have some unfinished business to take care of."

The irony off Moss' note was that he didn't confirm it to the New England football media - the ones who covered him all year - but to reporters covering his NASCAR Truck series venture (Moss Motorsports). That's just Randy's style.

The veteran receiver has been a magnet for fans, and critics since joining the league. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was reportedly upset that the front office in Green Bay didn't pursue Moss in 2007 before he joined the Patriots despite Moss being reviled in Green Bay for faux mooning the fans when he was playing for the Vikings.

Though he has had a tempestuous relationship with opposing fans, Moss' talent is coveted by coaches around the league. Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid pursued Moss this offseason as the Patriots worked to resign their superstar. According to Reid, the Eagles were close to a deal until Moss opted to re-join the Patriots for less at the last minute. Moss' agent confirmed that the superstar Wanted to stay in New England despite receiving significant interest in free agency.

"Randy was serious about wanting to stay," Tom DiPiero, Moss' agent told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Because of Randy's record-breaking year, the interest in him was very high."

Moss spoke to the media on Friday for the first time since signing his new deal to return to New England. Here is a brief exchange between Moss and the media at Patriots camp on Friday:

(On his decision to re-sign with the New England Patriots)
Randy Moss: First and foremost, we have some unfinished business. I like the camaraderie around here, especially in the locker room and on the field. They have a great group of guys in the locker room. I think that is all you can ask for. Coach [Bill] Belichick understands football and understands his players. He puts us together as one and we come together as a team. That is something you can respect playing in this profession and in this league.

(On how excited he is to get back on the field)
Moss: Well, I am actually kind of nervous. The reason why is because of what we did last year as a whole unit. We are going to try and come out and put points on the board. That is what we are coached and asked to do. The expectations and bar are set so high here. Not by you all or the fans but just by the coaches and the team. We have high expectations for this offense and this team as a unit. With what we did last year, I don't think we can live and dwell off that because that was last year. Like I said before there is a little bit of nervousness because of how high the bar is set here.

(On Brady's comment that that the offense is ahead of where they were last year at this point)
Moss: The good thing that I can say about our offense, and I am speaking for myself, is that you have guys who came in a little late last year with [Jabar] Gaffney, myself, Chad Jackson was hurt last year and [Wes] Welker came in last year. For us to have a whole off-season and training camp under our belts to really understand the offense is scary. That is why I say I am nervous because there is really no telling what we are going to do. The bar is set high and we will see what happens.


Randy Moss (81) stands with Wes Welker (83) and Jabar Gaffney (10) during a break in the action at their final day of training camp Aug. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Whether Moss is able to repeat last season's phenomenal performance is open for debate. The Patriots have concerns with their offensive line. Matt Light has missed nearly two weeks of camp for undisclosed reasons, Stephen Neal remains on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and the remaining lineman turned in a questionable performance against the Baltimore Ravens in the preseason opener.

Moss has displayed the chemistry he had with Brady last season during the team's first portion of training camp. Routinely snatching balls out of the air, Moss makes difficult catches look easy, and the impossible ones possible. Gliding effortlessly among the defenders, even double-covered Moss can make the catch.

If the Patriots can't get their ground game going, then it will be up to Moss, Welker, Gaffney and the rest of the receivers to turn in a season similar to 2007. The way Brady has connected with all three in camp, that shouldn't be a problem.

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