Q&A: Chris Hope sizes up Moss

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> The New York Jets have allowed the fewest points in the league and offensively are led by quarterback Chad Pennington and running back Curtis Martin. But there's more.

The Jets have a deep threat. Santana Moss has caught only 31 passes but he leads the NFL by averaging 21.4 yards per catch. Steelers free safety Chris Hope knows Moss and will be most responsible for lowering that average.

Here's what he had to say about the chore:

Chris, what do you know about Santana Moss?
I played against him all throughout college. He has great potential. He can do a whole lot more. He's not one of those receivers who gets a whole lot of attention. That's why I said potential. He's definitely one of the best receivers in the league.

Any stories?
Me and him got into it a couple times at Miami. It's not that we don't like each other or nothing. We were just emotionally wrapped up in that game, doing a whole lot of jaw-jacking after plays were over. It was nothing serious. He's one of my good friends. I see a lot of him during the summer at Miami. He made a couple of big plays on us my junior year. We came back and took the lead from us. He came back and made a couple big plays and they ended up kicking a field goal to win, or maybe Jeremy Shockey caught the touchdown pass. I do remember him saying big-time players make big-time plays in big games.

What do you have to know about covering him?
You definitely have to keep him in front of you because he's an Antwaan Randle El, but probably a lot faster. He'll make you miss. He's small but he's strong. He can beat you pretty much any way: special teams, reverses, screen passes or deep passes. He's a threat at all different positions.

What about the other games you played against him in college?
I played against him my first three years and Miami beat us the third year. His sophomore year he had two touchdowns.

Did you ever get burned by him?
Nah. Not in my zone. He definitely hurt us every time we played him though.

Since Pennington can't throw too far, how do you play Moss?
His offense isn't designed for the deep ball. They do what Chad does well. He's an anticipator, an accurate thrower and a good decision-maker, similar to Ben. Ben only goes deep when he has to.

But Ben can go deep. The safeties have to stay back. Do you have to stay back against Pennington and Moss?
I'm pretty sure Chad can throw it deep if the guy's wide open.

You can't cheat up?
I don't think you can underestimate anybody. He wouldn't have the highest average if he was catching only short passes.


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