For whatever reason, Randy Moss isn't talking to local reporters, but plenty of current and former teammates and coaches are talking about him.
Moss can be a polarizing figure off the field with fans, media and teammates, but on the field he commands the attention of defenses. It took only one game for the Vikings to get him involved against the New York Jets before defenses really started to give him more than single coverage.
"Since then, there's been a high percentage of always a safety over the top. Even in the Green Bay game there was a safety over the top the majority of the time. It's not something that I'm concerned with," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "If we end up getting an opportunity for a one-on-one matchup I know that we'll be able to take it."
"… It's not something that Randy's coming up to me and saying, ‘Hey, you've got to get me the ball,' either. He understands our offense. He understands how he fits into it. He says, ‘Hey coach, if I'm taking two guys out of the game plan all the time, fine.' And you saw how it affects our run game, how it affects Visanthe Shiancoe, how it affects Percy Harvin. He's not a guy that's sitting there saying, ‘Hey, I don't care how many guys are open, give me the ball.'"
Not yet anyway, but Moss is in the last year of his contract, and most players want to be as productive as possible to cash in for the next round of negotiations.
Green Bay did the most effective job shutting him down, mainly by always having a safety ready to help deep on his side. In his first two games with the Vikings, Moss had nine catches for 136 yards. Against the Packers, he had three receptions for 30 yards.
"I don't know that he's been held back. I would say he's seeing a good bit of people over the top of him," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "He's seeing a bunch of two safeties, a corner short and a safety deep type of defenses. I don't feel like he's being held back right now."
Childress said Moss helped out the Vikings' offensive and defensive coaches game-plan against the New England Patriots, Moss' employer for the last three-plus years before being traded to the Vikings earlier this month.
"He's been a positive in the locker room and on the field," Childress told Patriots reporters. "He's obviously an ‘A' competitor, smart football player. I think for a guy who has played as long as he has played, it was more about just getting him up to speed with our system. He understands a lot of things that are happening on the other side of the football against him, so it's not something that you have to teach both. He's been a joy to be around."
Teammates have had some time to get used to Moss over the last three weeks since the Vikings traded a third-round pick to the Patriots to acquire the deep threat. Defensive end Jared Allen said he was excited when he heard the Vikings made the move.
"Just to get a chance to play with a guy of that caliber, on a personal level, it's really cool. Again, I think he just adds things to our offense that when they get flowing and they all get in sync, it's going to be awesome," Allen said. "I think we're on the brink of being a potent – I mean we have the players to be a potent offense and put up huge numbers. When we all get on the same page, it's going to turn around. It has to turn around quick. I was excited for it. I still am excited for it. I think there are a lot of bright days in our future. Unfortunately, we don't have too much wiggle room right now. We've got to put our nose to the grindstone, and every game counts from here on out."
That grindstone continues this Sunday afternoon against the New England Patriots, where head coach Bill Belichick is sure to have something cooked up in coverage for Moss.
Belichick gave one statement about Moss on a conference call with Minnesota reporters this week and then turned to his disengaging ways.
"I have all the respect in the world for Randy," Belichick said. "The things we talked about in my office the day we traded for him and he got here that Sunday of the draft in 2007, he did every single thing that he said he would do. He tried his best to do it. I totally respect that."
Asked if he felt he got full effort from Moss in New England, Belichick said the previous statement said how he felt about Moss.
Allen said a halftime speech by Moss during his second game with the Vikings showed how much Moss wants to win, but so far the Vikings have a 1-2 record with him and a 1-2 record without him this season.
While his effort is sometimes questioned and his personality can be prickly, few doubt Moss' talents, even in his 13th NFL season.
"Randy is a great player. I'm glad I don't have to defend him," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. "I'm sure he'll want to come out and have a great game against us."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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