All eyes were on the wide receiver position at the Patriots' veteran minicamp last week. The off-season additions of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Kelley Washington and Donte' Stallworth bring an entirely new look to a wideout corps that was undermanned and often criticized in 2006.
But make no mistake, while Stallworth and Welker could play key roles for Bill Belichick's team this fall, the main attraction at mini-camp was the supremely talented and much maligned Moss. During his introductory conference call following his trade to New England on draft weekend, the big-play All-Pro predicated big things in his new home. Last week's practice action in shorts was a first chance for media members and even his teammates to get a glimpse of what the aging superstar has to offer.
Much has been written about Moss over the last few years, including two disappointing seasons in Oakland. According to his new quarterback, though, that's all in the past.
"I don't know what people say about him, and I try not to prejudge people," Tom Brady said of working with arguably the most physically gifted target he's ever played with. "You never know the experiences that someone may have had or the opportunities they may have had. I try not to prejudge teammates or stereotype guys before they get here, I just let the relationship develop as it is. I've been excited to have him around. He's worked extremely hard, he's in the weight room every day, he's been here working out. I think it's a great receiver group. The thing I worry about is do you know what to do, do you try hard, and are you unselfish, and that to me makes a good receiver. It seems like he's all three of those things, as far as I'm concerned."
Moss, who caught just 42 passes in 13 games last season in Oakland, addressed the media during the minicamp for what he said will be one of the few times all season. He once again expressed joy about becoming a Patriot, although he is not calling 2007 yet another fresh start.
"I've had two of those. I don't really want to call it a new beginning," the 6-4, 210-pound Moss said. "Like I said, it's something that you dream of knowing that the New England Patriots sit high on a lot of people's charts and as a wide receiver to come in and play with the core guys, with Tom Brady and Kevin Faulk and the offensive line. It's a great group of guys that we have here on the field and off the field. That's something that I can really enjoy."
After winning just six games in his two-year stint in silver and black, Moss knows he's one of the reasons that hopes are as high as ever for the Patriots. But external pressures aren't even as lofty as the goals of those inside Gillette Stadium.
"My expectations are to go out and help this team succeed and that's by winning games," Moss said. "The expectations that you guys and everyone else puts on us is all on outside. I think that the expectations that we have here on this team are also set high. We look forward to good things and once we go out to practice, coach Belichick puts us through hard work, even in the classroom. We can't expect anything less. Our expectations are high just from coming inside the locker room."
In terms of work put in on the practice field, while Moss may not have the elite speed and quickness he once did, the 30-year-old still displayed great hands and ability to go after the football. It's extremely early and was only a mini-camp taste, but there's reason to believe the excitement brought this spring could roll into the regular season. And that would certainly mean reports of his career demise were a bit premature.
"To be honest with you, I don't plan on changing. I just want to go out there and play football," Moss said. "Really anything that you've heard about me, good or bad, some are lies. Some are true. Hopefully the true stuff will come out and then hopefully the bad will stay back there. Like I said, I don't plan on changing. I think that the guys are getting to know me and understand that I love to win and carry myself as a professional athlete."
Moss: ‘I Don't Plan on Changing'
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