By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 31, 2010; 12:14 AM
In any given week, Santana Moss will leave the football stadium on Sunday and begin prepping for a week of non-stop bodywork.
He'll see his masseuse twice and will make two visits to a chiropractor. He'll spend nights resting in a hyperbaric chamber in his home, receiving oxygen treatments, and he even flies in a personal trainer from Atlanta each week - "a specialist when it comes to muscles," Moss said.
"When you was younger, you didn't have to have massages, you didn't have to see chiropractors," said the 31-year-old Moss. "Now you just throw that in your regimen, and say, 'Well, this is what keeps me going.' So you pay a little more just to play."
It's paid off thus far. Moss enters Sunday's season finale against the New York Giants with 84 catches, just one shy of a new career high for a single season. Last week at Jacksonville, he topped the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth time in his 10-year career. He's been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise stagnant Washington Redskins offense.
"I had a lot of respect before I came here for Santana," said quarterback Rex Grossman, "but now getting the chance to play with him, he's an amazing player, the way he can separate from defenders. He's got great hands. He runs great routes. He's everything I thought he was and more. He's a really, really good receiver."
No one questions Moss's ability or his role in the Redskins' offense. But his future isn't quite as clear. After six seasons in Washington, Moss is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. While he's been given no assurances, Moss says he hopes to return to the Redskins and get a chance to grow in a second year in Mike Shanahan's offense.
"I don't feel like leaving is going to help me win games somewhere else. I feel that when somewhere that you are comfortable with, that you feel like you can play, and your family can live and, you know, you can raise your family and live comfortably, and play a great game, and play at a high level," Moss said, "you know, why leave?"
The Redskins have found a way to make Moss as effective as ever, despite his age. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan knew long before he arrived in Washington that Moss was a superb receiver. He said he didn't realize Moss was such a good football player, though.
"He's tough, he's physical, he doesn't shy away from contact," Kyle Shanahan said. "I think he's done a hell of a job for us."
But after reviewing film of Moss's previous seasons, Shanahan also thought he could take better advantage of Moss's skills. Moss, who at 5 feet 9 is short and quick, made his name as a college receiver at the University of Miami lining up in the slot. But since entering the NFL in 2001, he's lined up almost exclusively on the outside. This season, Shanahan moved Moss back to the slot and gave him a variety of inside passing routes.
"When you got guys who are not the tall, lanky guys, their legs are always under them, so they can cut a little better than most people," Shanahan said. "They can get to the top of the routes, stick out both feet, go both directions. You give guys like that a two-way go. It's tough to cover them. When you got a guy who's got that quickness, that talent, has the hands he does, has got football awareness - he's not scared. He can be a special player in there."
While Moss doesn't necessarily think he was playing out of position before as a flanker, he recognizes the benefits of lining up in the slot, where he's facing more linebackers than quicker safeties.
"When guys cover you outside with cover-two and put clouds over you, now you have a chance to get inside where they can't put the cover-two over you all the time," Moss said.
Regardless of scheme or strategy, Moss has had to keep his body fresh for a game that favors youth. He said he started getting serious about his treatments when he was traded to the Redskins in 2005, prepping his body with the hope of delaying the twilight of his career.
His work habits haven't been without controversy. Shortly after federal authorities charged Canadian doctor Anthony Galea in May with the unlawful distribution of human growth hormone, Moss's name emerged as one of Galea's clients. Moss, who has battled knee problems in recent years, has said he's received treatments from Galea but had no knowledge of any HGH.
Moss had to go without those treatments this year, and he said he hasn't missed a beat.
"Why would I miss it?" Moss said. "I'm out here playing every day. . . . It wasn't important because I've obviously found a way to get around it."
Still, as the players around him get younger, Moss recognizes the need to slow his physical decline.
"You put a little more extra on yourself to go out and do the things that when you were younger you didn't do," Moss said. "As far as take care of your body a little better, you try to do things a little more, you cut back on some of the fun you had during the season and stuff like that."
What Moss doesn't know is just how long his body will last. He hopes to sign a free agent contract and plans on playing somewhere in 2011. He doesn't know where he'll end up, though, or how long he'll be there.
"I never put a number on anything. I just go," he said. "It'll come a day. Until that day comes, you'll see me out here running routes, doing what I do."