Santana Moss turned 35 on June 1 and he knows that he is coming close to the end of his career. He seems to be enjoying the time he has left, making his way through OTAs with a noticeable bounce in his step, shouting encouragement to his teammates and celebrating good plays.
“For the last four or five years my appreciation of the game has been a little different,” he said after the Redskins’ OTA session on Wednesday. “You’ve got these young fellows coming in, you want to show them how to prepare, show them how to practice, show them the reason why I’m still here. So my approach has been different.”
He is coming off of one of the worst years of his career. Moss started just one game and gained only 452 receiving yards, his lowest total since he was a second-year player with the Jets and primarily a punt returner, averaging a career low 10.8 yards per catch.
Many were surprised when the Redskins re-signed him, even though it was a minimum-salary deal. But it seems that Jay Gruden is a big fan.
“Santana, he’s had an excellent offseason program, man,” said Gruden. “He’s fun to be around, he’s fun to watch, he knows every position, he’s making big plays out there. He looks like a young kid, he’s got energy, he’s a great leader. If he drops a pass, he holds himself accountable. If the quarterback misses him, he’s like, ‘Let’s get onto the next one, man’ He’s a great guy to have for these young guys to learn from at the receiver position, and every position for that matter.
“He’s working out hard. He’s the first one out there today again, I like having guys like that, veteran guys who are great examples for rookies and also can help you win in big games. You know the game’s not too big for them because they’ve been there and done that. He’s another one that’s going to help this team out.”
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That is some strong praise but good words in June don’t necessarily equal a roster spot in September. The depth chart is crowded. The top three, holdover Pierre Garçon and free agent pickups DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, are set. If Leonard Hankerson is recovered from an ACL injury last November he should have a roster spot and Gruden has had glowing things to say about fifth-round draft pick Ryan Grant.
That leaves Moss battling it out for the last roster spot with the likes of Aldrick Robinson and rookie free agent Cody Hoffman. Although he has never before found himself is such serious danger of being left off of the final 53-man roster he hasn’t changed his mindset.
“I’ve never not had to go work for my job. At the end of the day there’s always competition,” he said. “You all were rating where somebody’s at. I never did that. I went out here and worked; that’s why I’m able to be here today because I’ve always showed [what he can do] instead of talk about it. I’m going to continue to do that. I’m going to work, go here and practice hard and put everything on tape and at the end of the day you can judge me on my tape.”