In terms of range, consistency and intense competitiveness, there is no more feared kicker in the NFL than Mark Moseley, whose heroics have become so commonplace that they are almost taken for granted by both his Redskin teammates and their fans.

But as good as Moseley has been -- and continues to be -- the best probably is yet to come from his educated foot.

This season, he can kick the ball accurately five yards longer than last year. His practice range has stretched to at least 64 yards, one yard beyond Tom Dempsey's league record.

And he sees no end to a career that already had spanned eight seasons. He talks of kicking 10 to 12 more years, using a sophisticated training program to keep strengthening a leg that already produces the kind of accuracy and distance most of his peers can never duplicate.

"I'm at a point where I can step out and kick a 46-yarder and expect it should land in the second deck," said Moseley. "Being able to kick 64 yards is nice but you hardly ever get the opportunity to do it. What it means, though, is that you can boot the 40-yarders without straining.

"You can just use your normal rhythm and technique and not feel you have to put a lot of extra into it and pray. Hey, it can be as easy as it might look on television. Just step and boot. It should be automatic."

That is what Moseley is striving for: automatic success. He wants to be a human machine, capable of ignoring pressures and adverse game conditions so well that he never falters in his execution.

To most Redskin opponents, he has nearly reached that pinnacle now. If he kicks three field goals Monday night here against the Giants, he will set a Washington career record, breaking Curt Knight's mark of 102. But numbers can't accurately describe the threat his foot represents on game day.

He has become his own enemy. He is so good that, even when the rest of the team falters, his failures are greeted with surprise. His coach, Jack Pardee, summed it up best when he said last week after the Detroit game that from 40 yards in, "Mark makes it look like a chip shot. It's three points."

Moseley recognizes the problem and its ramifications. Yet he feels it works to the team's benefit.

"I think I give the offense more flexibility," he said. "They know that when they get within a certain yard-line, I can make it. So they don't have to play so close to the vest. They can gamble and go for a touchdown and then fall back on me, if necessary.

"I want them to have confidence in me. I want them to believe I will do it every time. And I think they do. I'm sure if I ever went through a bad spell, they'd stay with me. They wouldn't bail out because they know I will come around."

There is little likelihood of a Moseley slumy, however. He has earned his reputation for excellence during his career as much through hard work as through talent, and this drive to succeed keeps him from losing his edge.

If anything, Moseley trains too hard. He has been told by doctors to back off a bit to avoid causing more tendinitis in his hips. But to the man who was told as a young boy by his father "that hard work is the only way to achieve anything," it is difficult to rest while his teammates are practicing.

Much has been made of rookie Russell Erxleben's athletic ability, but Moseley long ago considered himself an athlete first and a kicker second. A former quarterback, he puts himself through a grueling daily workout, weightlifting, run a mile, run at least 10 100s, swing a five-pound weight in his kicking shoe at least 100 times and run striders at the end of practice.

Within this routine, kicking, itself, becomes secondary. He may try 20 or 30 field goals a day, just to stay in practice. But he has been using the same style for so long that there is no need to refine his technique.

"I kick a lot in the summer and in camp to sharpen myself," he said. "But once I feel comfortable, I just work to stay that way.

"Right now, because of my thigh problems in camp, I'm not where I want to be. It's coming back, although I could tell the last two weeks I wasn't that sharp. I think that's why I missed that field goal against the Lions. I should never miss from 46 yards."

His teammates recognize Moseley's conscientious work habits. They do not consider him some non-athletic outcast who happens to have an extraordinary leg. Instead, he is respected by them in their uniquely jock fashion.

"Oh, they kid me a lot, no doubt about it," Moseley said. "But I think it helps them let out steam. There is a lot of pressure out there and I'm very visible. Diron Talbert will try to block my kicks by throwing his helmet in the air and they'll razz me in the huddle."

But isn't it the kicker who is supposed to feel pressure?

"I guess so, but I really don't, not that much," he said. "That's where experience has come in. I feel more confident in myself than I ever have."