Raiders not worried about Moss being a teammate

When the Oakland Raiders were getting tantalizingly closer to trading for Minnesota Viking wide receiver Randy Moss, head coach Norv Turner told quarterback Kerry Collins to keep it hush-hush until the move became official. Just how the mercurial Moss will be now that he is a Raider was a topic of conversation at Saturday's minicamp, which concludes Sunday.

In the days leading up to the trade, which sent linebacker Napoleon Harris and the No. 7 overall pick in the draft to Minnesota, Turner phoned Collins at his ranch and told him that there was a good chance the Oakland Raiders would acquire Moss. By Turner's request, however, Collins could not tell anyone. Collins kiddingly told Turner that he could yell out of his back porch and only the cows would hear.

Moss brings his share of baggage, something that has never stopped the Raiders from welcoming a player. Moss, however, added that he was by and large going to keep his distance (the same approach he had in seven seasons in Minnesota).

"If people give me my space and let me play football, we'll be fine," Moss said. "It's a relationship we need to build. The biggest thing is, I'm here to work."

That relationship eventually wore thin from the Vikings point of view despite catching 574 passes for 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns.

In one respect, the Raiders acquiring Moss is strikingly similar to signing defensive tackle Warren Sapp after nine seasons as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Sapp, like Moss, brought a controversial personality to the locker-room but has also been in a four-year decline.

Moss, however, can still be an impact player but he also was slowed for a good portion of the season by a hamstringing injury. In fact, Moss did not surpass the 1,000 yard barrier for the first time in his career. Moss seems to be mixing well with his new teammates so far but that process will bear watching, like it would any other player coming to a new team.

Nonetheless, the Raiders are counting heavily on Moss after going a combined 9-23 the previous two seasons after reaching the Super Bowl in 2002.

"I think Randy exudes that kind of personality," Collins said. "He doesn't walk around like he's better than everyone else. I think he's going to be a good teammate."

With the Raiders resigning fellow wide receiver Jerry Porter coupled with the strong-armed Collins having another season to digest the offense, Oakland figures to have an exciting offense. Like Collins, Porter is not worried about Moss mixing with his new teammates.

"If he needs help and I do see him do something wrong, I can help him," Porter said.

Moss added that the biggest adjustment, other than getting acquainted with teammates, has been getting acclimated to the new offense with terminology and routes along with the depth of the routes.

"I'm really liking coach Turner," Moss said. "He goes over offense and makes everything easier. I don't play defense so I have to like an offensive-minded coach."

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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