Moss elicits only praise from Patriots
Randy Moss may feel he isn’t wanted in New England, but his coaches couldn’t be happier with him.
A day after Moss told cbssports.com that he feels unwanted by the Patriots in the final year of his contract, coach Bill Belichick and other members of the staff praised the 33-year-old receiver yesterday.
“Randy is a professional,’’ Belichick said. “He’s had a good training camp. He’s played very well since he’s been here. He’s played at a very high level and I hope that continues. He’s brought a lot of passion to the game — for the game — since he’s been here. He’s well-liked and he’s well-respected on the team.’’
Belichick was asked if he were surprised to hear that Moss is frustrated.
“He didn’t say that to me, so I really don’t have any comment on that,’’ Belichick said.
After turning down several reporters seeking comment Monday, Moss told cbssports.com that he did not feel as though the team appreciated his contributions.
“When you have done so much and put so much work in, it kind of feels like I am not wanted,’’ Moss said. “I am taking that in stride and playing my final year out, and whatever the future holds is what it holds, but it is kind of a bad feeling, feeling not wanted.
“It is not like my production has gone down. I am speaking from an individual standpoint. I don’t know about Tom [Brady’s] or whoever else’s contract.
“I am a little older and understand the nature of the business; the older you get, the more your skills supposedly diminish, but I think I am getting wiser in how to use my physical skills. That’s the frustrating part, when you put so much heart and desire into things and feel like you are not wanted.’’
Moss may be looking for his piece of the pie after reports surfaced that Brady is close to signing a new deal. Moss rejuvenated his career in New England in 2007 after being acquired from the Raiders for a fourth-round draft pick. Moss was part of a record-setting offense that season, making an NFL-record 23 touchdown receptions, breaking Jerry Rice’s 1987 mark by one.
Following that season, the Patriots rewarded Moss with a three-year deal worth $27 million, of which $15 million was guaranteed. His base salary for 2009 is a team-high $6.4 million.
Despite Moss’s comments, the Patriots weren’t going to fight this battle publicly.
Bill O’Brien, the team’s quarterbacks and receivers coach, said he has never heard Moss voice any displeasure with the organization.
“Since the day he’s walked in here, he’s been a productive, excellent player for us and a very professional player,’’ O’Brien said. “I feel really good about our relationship with Randy.’’
O’Brien believes Moss will continue to play at a high level and won’t let any off-field distractions affect his performance once the season starts Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“As far as practice and games and professionalism and the way he carries himself in the building and the things he does for the young players and us as coaches, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the guy,’’ said O’Brien. “I’m glad he’s here, and I’m glad he’s a part of our team. And he’s a big part of our team.’’
Nick Caserio, the Patriots director of player personnel, said Moss “was great to deal with on my end’’ when Caserio was the receivers coach in 2007.
When Caserio was asked if he would like to see Moss in a Patriots uniform beyond this season, he said, “We’re glad he’s here for the game on Sunday, and that’s what we’re worried about.’’
Caserio added, “He’s going to help our football team, I’m sure. That’s what we’re focused on right now.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.