Moss Quietly Having An Impact

Randy Moss may not have the same production he had with Tom Brady last year, but that doesn't mean his contributions are any less important.

He may not be catching as many touchdown passes as he was this time a year ago, but Randy Moss is finding other ways to contribute as the New England Patriots continue to move on without Tom Brady.

Voted a team captain in just his second year with New England, Moss is using his vast football knowledge to help quarterback Matt Cassel stay afloat while also using his veteran leadership to keep everyone's spirits up in the aftermath of a tough loss to Miami in Week 3.

Asked to define his role as a team leader, Moss gave most of the credit Wednesday to head coach Bill Belichick.

"I think it's just believing in what coach is selling," Moss said. "When you have everybody on the same page, I guess it's easier to lead a team. I think everybody is buying what he is selling. I don't think it is just me being a leader. I think it's just everybody is on the same page.

"We really have to turn things around and go out with a great week of practice because this is going to be a long road trip. I think we are up for the challenge and hopefully we will get it done."

Moss' numbers are down in the aftermath of Brady's season-ending injury. He's caught only one touchdown in three games, as opposed to five at this time a year ago. Still, he's maintained a positive attitude and has been an asset in Cassel's rapid development over the past month, which is no surprise to Belichick.

"If you look at him day-to-day, I don't think there is too much of a difference between this year and last year," Belichick said. "He's still the first guy in line in the drills. (He's) very supportive in the huddle, always talking to quarterbacks and other receivers about what happened on that play, or how to get ready for the next one.

"With formations, we do a lot of that in personnel groups. He's always tried to stay a little bit ahead of the count. For the captain, I think that just shows the respect he has from his teammates. His recognition as a captain speaks to that and gives him a little more support relative to the meetings that I have with the captains and the guys who have been selected as the leadership guys by the players."

At some point, the Patriots will need Moss to revert to his 2007 form when he caught an NFL-record 23 touchdowns, but all that depends on the play of New England's offensive line along with the production from Cassel. Moss is confident in his new quarterback, but also knows Cassel needs to worry about his own production before focusing on what his teammates are doing.

"He has to believe in himself," Moss said. "I think it will trickle on down to the whole offense. We have seen Matt progress in these last couple of weeks quicker than we expected him to. We just have to put guys around him. We have to make it happen.

"Not really everything is on him or his shoulders. He has to be smart and distribute the ball, but at the same time there are still 11 guys out there that have to get the job done. We like what we are doing as a whole offensive unit and hopefully we can keep it going."

With two weeks between games, Moss and Cassel had time to work on their timing while also getting an opportunity to rest for Sunday's game at San Francisco. Moss' leadership will be on display for the next 12 weeks as the Patriots play nonstop from now through the end of the season.

"We had the week off on Sunday, but we got down to football," Moss said. "The weekend was really for us to rest our bodies and I think we did that. We did have an early bye week. The good thing is that we can keep practicing and keep working day in and day out knowing we don't have a week off. I am looking forward to this run. I am just glad to be back and playing on Sundays."

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