- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

Santana Moss and David Patten were supposed to be the new Nos. 1 and 1a of Washington’s receiving corps this season.

Two games into their Redskins tenures, however, the paths of Moss and Patten have diverged.

Moss was the NFC player of the week for his late-game heroics in the Redskins’ stunning victory over the Dallas Cowboys on “Monday Night Football” last week. Patten, on the other hand, has been virtually invisible.

The pair posted similar numbers last season while playing with other teams, and Patten had the more productive preseason this summer. But Moss gained more yards on each of his fourth-quarter touchdown catches against the Cowboys than Patten did in the first two games combined.

With just four catches for 31 yards, Patten ranks behind not only Moss but also H-back Chris Cooley and third wideout James Thrash.

“Hopefully, this week based on what they saw last week, they should shade Santana’s way a little more, and that should open up the back side for the old man,” Patten said yesterday with a smile.

Patten is only 31, but teammates say he seems older than his years. Quarterback Mark Brunell, who’s four years older, called Patten “grandpa” when describing his maturity.

While Patten has experienced the joy of winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots, he will never forget landscaping, assisting an electrician and hauling 75-pound bags of coffee beans for a year before catching on with Albany of the Arena Football League in 1996. That real-world job experience put Patten’s current limited role in perspective even though he’s got a $13 million deal.

“We all want to make the big catches,” said Patten, whose 18.2-yard average was third in the NFL last season behind Denver’s Ashley Lelie (20.1) and Moss (18.6). “We all want to have 100 yards. But I come from a team-oriented [background]. The bottom line is winning. My time is coming. Whether it be this week or next week, it doesn’t matter.”

With Patten’s maturity comes the ability to roll with the ups and downs of the NFL. Moss, like a typical receiver, was frustrated when the passing game wasn’t producing during the first 31/2 quarters in Dallas. But rather than focusing on his lone 12-yard catch, Patten took it upon himself to keep the 26-year-old Moss calm.

“You don’t only have to lead on the field. You have to lead in the locker room [and on the sideline],” Patten said. “When you see other receivers having big weeks and you know you can do the same things, you have a tendency to get frustrated, especially when you’re a young guy. I just let Santana know that you have to keep your head clear because you never know when it’s going to be time for you to break out. If Santana had been sitting over there pouting, who knows? Maybe he doesn’t make those plays.”

As for himself, Patten admitted to being a little surprised at his slow start, but he hasn’t let it get him down.

“For whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened yet,” Patten said. “You just have to maintain a positive attitude.”

Like Patten, receivers coach Stan Hixon and coach Joe Gibbs aren’t concerned about his lack of production, especially with the Redskins alone atop the NFC East for the first time in two years.

“I think it will come with David,” Gibbs said. “I’m not particularly worried about that. He’s shown he’s a very productive guy, and he’s playing a very productive spot for us, X receiver.”

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