- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2005

Life is good for Santana Moss. Washington’s newest sports star returns to New York on Sunday leading the league in receiving yards and with his Redskins tied for the NFC East lead with the Giants and Philadelphia Eagles at 4-2.

“It’s pretty cool to go back and be playing in the game we’re playing in on Sunday,” said Moss, who called Giants Stadium home for four years before the New York Jets traded him to the Redskins in March for fellow receiver Laveranues Coles. “I know the stadium well. I know it has some pretty fast turf. I’m hoping it’s a good [weather] day so we can be able to do the things that we do.”

The 26-year-old Moss clearly is the biggest reason an offense that was one of the NFL’s worst in 2004 now ranks second in the league.

“Santana has been pretty phenomenal,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “I’m really thankful we got him. Last year, I was so frustrated [because] we couldn’t get big plays. For us to get some this year changes the whole complexion of what we’re doing.”

Moss’ best game with the Jets came in his previous matchup with the Giants when he caught 10 balls for 121 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 loss in 2003 at Giants Stadium. Moss caught 74 passes for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns that season, but those numbers pale with those he is on pace for this year: 101 catches, 1,981 yards and 13 touchdowns. The yards would set an NFL record, the touchdowns a Redskins mark.

“I always like to make the critics scratch their heads,” said Moss, who battled injuries while playing for the Jets. “[The Redskins] don’t just make me stretch the [field] every time. They put me in a situation where … I’m just getting the ball in my hands and generate whatever I’m going to get. When you’ve got a guy like myself and you’re throwing deep every play, teams pretty much pick that up.”

Although Moss was absent for much of the offseason program at Redskin Park while his agent negotiated a new contract and Mark Brunell was a backup throughout training camp and preseason, the receiver and his new quarterback wasted no time clicking.

Brunell, who’s leading the NFC with a 98.3 passer rating, said the chemistry is “80 percent Moss and 20 percent Brunell. He’s that good. There’s nothing Santana can’t do. The only thing he doesn’t have is he’s not 6-foot-4 or 6-5, but he can catch and run. He’s smart. He’s competitive. And once he gets the ball, he can do something with it.”

Hall finally back?

Kicker John Hall, who missed 14 of the past 17 games with a series of leg injuries, including the last five with a pulled quadriceps, could return to action Sunday.

“I think I’m kicking this week,” Hall said. “I felt pretty good. It depends on what [special teams coach Danny Smith] wants. I prepared last week like I was kicking, but it didn’t happen. Of course, I’m anxious. It’s a pretty big game, but I just want to get out there for any game. I don’t care if we play Maryland.”

Gibbs, who earlier said Hall would reclaim his job from rookie Nick Novak if he showed he could kick in practice for two straight weeks, said today’s more kick-intensive practice likely would be more telling about Sunday’s situation.

Spectators are probable

Defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin (hip), Cedric Killings (ankle) and Aki Jones (hamstring) didn’t practice but are probable for Sunday, as are fellow defensive tackle Joe Salave’a (foot), cornerback Carlos Rogers (ankle), linebacker LaVar Arrington (hamstring) and center Casey Rabach (ankle), all of whom practiced.

Brunell (calf) was limited in practice but is also probable.

Salave’a played against San Francisco despite not practicing all week.

“It’s tender, but if I can tolerate the pain, I’ll be all right,” he said. “I’ve never had this problem before. I’m trying to get as much treatment as I can and work through it.”

cStaff writer Ryan O’Halloran contributed to this article.

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