Santana Moss had his breakout year with the Washington Redskins in 2005, where he registered 84 catches for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. Seven years later, he is trying to recapture his former luster, while defying his age and battling back from the worst year of his career in D.C.
With his experience and skill as a slot receiver, Moss is poised for more than just a rebound in 2012.
Moss missed four games last season due to a broken hand, and struggled to consistently make an impact on offense. He caught 46 passes for 584 yards and four touchdowns while taking on more of a slot receiver role.
The lack of an elite receiver in Washington last season made Moss the second receiver occupying the duties of a third or fourth receiver.
The aforementioned breakout year for Moss featured a great mixture of downfield plays and yards after the catch that earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl and put opposing defenses on notice for 2006. He failed to recreate his 2005 success, and despite being the Redskins' best receiver, did not top the 1,000-yard mark again until 2008.
A string of bad quarterbacks, worse coaches and inept offenses slowed Moss' production, but he won't have to deal with that this season.
Moss is listed as the team's second receiver opposite Pierre Garçon, but he will be doing more than just keeping defenses honest. The Redskins will use Moss as a downfield threat, as well as a slot receiver, since there aren't any accomplished slot receivers on the roster.
Coming into camp 15 pounds lighter, and in the best shape he has been in since arriving in Washington should do wonders for the increased responsibility.
Not that Moss hasn't always had these responsibilities, but being the elder statesman of the receiving corps means he has to lead by example. Taking it upon himself to get into peak physical condition shows his willingness to shoulder the responsibility of a seasoned veteran.
If there is a comparison for Moss' career at this point, it would be one-time Redskin Joey Galloway, who at 34 years of age produced the best season of his career.
Speed receivers tend to lose their quickness once they hit 30, and many fail to adapt to their waning physical gifts to remain productive. Moss isn't the same burner he was in 2005, but he has plenty of spring in his step, and complementary offensive weapons to open things up.
Moss has Fred Davis, Garçon, Hankerson, Evan Royster and Robert Griffin III demanding defensive attention, making Moss' life on the outside easier than it has ever been.
Tevin Reese, Griffin's go-to slot receiver at Baylor last season, caught 51 passes for 877 yards and seven touchdowns. He was able to play off of the success of Kendall Wright and Terrence Williams to hurt defenses to the tune of 17.3 yards per catch.
Moss may not reach the near 1,500 yard plateau of 2005, but he can be a 1,000-yard receiver again, and prove to be a threat even at the ripe old football age of 33.
There are a lot of things that need to go right on offense for the Redskins to get the most out of Moss, but if Griffin can prove to be more than just another rookie, Moss will have a young and talented quarterback for the first time in his Redskins career.
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