Veteran Santana Moss can still produce for Skins

Veteran Santana Moss can still produce for Skins
July 14, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Tarik talks training camp, Skins' receiver and o-line depth

Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss (89) runs with the ball during Redskins training camp at Redskins Park.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

When many thought his career was winding down, Santana Moss enjoyed quite a productive season in 2012.

While his reception and receiving yards totals did not come close to his career highs, Moss made the most of his touches. Hauling in 41 catches last season, Moss took almost 20 percent of his opportunities into the end zone, accounting for eight touchdowns.

As a 5’10” slot receiver, Moss has proved his ability to get separation from defenders and find open space for over a decade in the NFL.

Though it is unlikely Moss will ever recreate his near 1,500-yard season like he did his first year for the Skins in 2005, the shifty veteran gives RG3 a reliable option, particularly on third down.

This season, Moss wil be 34, ancient in terms of NFL receivers. So what are reasonable expectations for the 13th year player out of the University of Miami?

It’s hard to project Moss, because his value in the red zone outpaces his overall statistics. Hauling in eight touchdowns led all receivers on the Skins, but Moss did not even get to the 600-yard mark on the season.

In recent Redskins memory, Henry Ellard provides a decent benchmark for Moss. Ellard, like Moss, was a smaller player, and had some of his best seasons late in his career with the Skins.

For three seasons, Ellard broke the 1,000-yard barrier for Washington, and what’s important for the Moss comparisons was that Ellard did that in his early 30s.

Unlike the running back position, where players rarely make it in their 30s, some receivers can continue to post strong numbers at age 33 or 34. Ellard certainly did that for the Skins in the mid-1990s, but he was the best receiver on a few bad teams.

Former No. 1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson accounted for 815 yards at age 34, bringing in four touchdowns. Johnson was a bigger, more physical receiver than Moss though.

Jimmy Smith actually improved late in his career with the Jaguars, teamed up with Keenan McCardell and quarterback Mark Brunell. At 34, Smith reached the 800-yard mark, but at both 35 and 36 Smith hauled in more than 1,000 yards.

Competing with Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson for RG3’s attention, Moss will have to earn his reps this coming season. But like he has done for more than a decade, expect Moss to make an impact in 2013.