In a Down Year, Moss Looks Good by Comparison

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Santana Moss, dogged by a series of hamstring problems, will come nowhere close to the franchise record he set for receiving yards in 2005, but in a league filled with wide receivers who whine about their roles or production, Moss has been a mature and incident-free presence with the Redskins.

In both tough and successful times, Moss has endeared himself to teammates and coaches. The former Miami star said that hasn't always been the case with him -- he had an occasional flare-up when he was with the New York Jets -- but he has learned to control his emotions as well as his tongue. Moss, 27, has maintained a perspective on his ups and downs that does not go unnoticed, especially when teammate Brandon Lloyd is throwing helmets -- and tantrums.

"I used to pout and [complain] and moan and worry about this and worry about that, but what it all boils down to is you're hurting something else," Moss said. "All we can do is get better. We can't sit around here and dwell on what happened. We have to move on."

Moss was finally healthy again in Sunday's 24-14 loss to Atlanta and it showed. It was his first time playing at full strength with starting quarterback Jason Campbell and the two hooked up repeatedly. Moss, who caught seven passes for 123 yards and a 42-yard touchdown, is the only wide receiver who has had a big day in this offense all season.

Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El could muster only meek production when Moss was greatly limited in the previous five games by hamstring problems (he missed two games entirely). Moss is the only receiver who has had more than 52 receiving yards in a game this season, and he has scored four touchdowns. The rest of the wide receivers combined have two (both by Randle El).

Moss leads the team with 41 catches for 587 yards, and no other wide receiver has more than 22 catches or 295 yards.

Cartwright: Like a Rock

Special-teams ace Rock Cartwright has had a quietly superb season, continuing to contribute in gritty ways and sacrifice himself for the team. Cartwright has energized the return game, participates in many coverage units and blocked a punt Sunday. Against Atlanta, he and the kickoff return team helped the Redskins to an average start at the 34-yard line, and he returned one kick 35 yards.

"He's consistently been such an improvement of where we've been," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "He is really consistent and very aggressive and then he goes in there and works himself silly and blocks, and he's always one of our key guys on punts. That guy could be really upset about his role and pout, and Rock is a true Redskin. As far as I'm concerned, he's done everything he can do for us."

Portis Surgery Successful

Clinton Portis underwent successful outpatient shoulder surgery yesterday, director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said, and will undergo a six-month rehab stint. The surgery was performed by orthopedic surgeon Ray Thal at Reston Hospital Center. . . . The Redskins' defense is back to the bottom of many key rankings after allowing Atlanta to run for 256 yards Sunday. Although they still rank 28th in total defense, Washington is last in average yards allowed per pass, percentage of passes that have been intercepted and sacks per pass play. The Redskins rank 27th in third-down defense and 28th in fourth-down defense. They are 26th in points allowed.

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