Cris Carter caught Randy Moss’ first words to the New England media and instantly recognized his former protege meant business.
That can mean only good things for the Patriots [team stats].
“For one of the first times since early in his career, I could hear in his voice what he really wanted to do,” Carter said. “He basically said the same thing the day (the Minnesota Vikings) drafted him. He called me up and said, ‘I want to work with you to become the best. I want people to see what kind of talent I have.’ To hear him (Sunday) was very refreshing. You could hear that excitement.”
Few know Moss as well as Carter, who served as a role model in Minnesota and watched Moss grow from eager rookie to established superstar during their time together as wide receivers with the Vikings (1998-2001). Since then, Carter has not hesitated to criticize when he feels Moss has lost his way, but he fully expects the player who struggled through two seasons in Oakland to be reborn under coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
“I still don’t believe, and I tell Randy this, I still don’t believe that he has reached his potential,” Carter said. “He’s gone through a four-year period between Minnesota and Oakland where he really didn’t improve upon the things we had worked on before. I think the people he had around him had allowed him to slack.
“Tom Brady [stats] is going to tell him that when he’s supposed to break a route at 8 yards, he needs him at 8 yards. That’s the stability of a veteran quarterback. From what I know about Tom Brady and the way he practices, Randy is going to love him.”
Carter said hard work never was an issue for Moss. And contrary to public perception, Carter believes Moss will thrive in a disciplined environment.
“Randy loves structure,” Carter said. “The better the structure and the heavier the hammer, the easier it is for him. Randy knows within a team what he has to do to win. He’s not the only guy on the field.”
Carter took issue with a common criticism that Moss doesn’t go hard on every play.
“Unless Belichick is coaching in some other league and doesn’t know about it, receivers all over the league loaf on the back side,” Carter said. “Randy Moss is just one of those guys that every time he steps on the field, the cameras are on him. If you chart all the yardage he covers during a game, no one runs as many deep routes. He has to take some plays off, unless you want him to come out of the game. His problem is that he’s never been a good actor about it. I took a lot of plays off when I played, but I was a better actor.”
Moss’ bottom line, Carter said, is winning. He’s happy when he’s doing it, miserable when he’s not.
“The only difference between Randy and Jerry Rice is winning games and winning big games,” Carter said. “He hasn’t won on the level he wants. Randy Moss does not believe going to a conference championship is winning. He wants a Super Bowl.”