Stopping Moss no easy task for Chargers' secondary

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Oct 14, 2005

By: JAY PARIS - Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO ---- Wide receiver Randy Moss and the Oakland Raiders seem to be a marriage arranged in the Black Hole. Moss, one of the NFL's loose cannons, and the Raiders, an organization known to accept anyone ---- as long as they produce ---- are perfect for each other.

But Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins, whom the visiting Chargers will face Sunday, said Moss' reputation doesn't jibe with the person.

"Whatever the public perception may have been of Randy, I have nothing bad to say about the guy,'' Collins said. "He's come here, worked hard and shown that he'll do whatever it takes to learn this offense and to be the kind of receiver here like he was in Minnesota.''

The Chargers face some killer twins of their own the next two Sundays. First up is the rangy Moss, a five-time Pro Bowler, followed by the Eagles' Terrell Owens. For a Chargers secondary trying to find its feet, the feat of stopping those two is a tall one.

But Owens can wait. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Moss awaits, which must keep the Chargers' defensive backs tossing and turning.

Not so, cornerback Quentin Jammer said.

"He doesn't keep me up. I think the more you worry the worse you play," Jammer said. "If you get too worried about him, you're going be worried about him on Sunday when you play and it's going take you out of your game.''

Moss' game is this: streak down the field, wave a hand and have Collins throw it up for grabs. It's amazing how often Moss comes down with the ball and a smile.

"You got to be aware of the fact that he can go deep and he can catch the ball deep on you,'' Jammer said. "You have to be aware and try not to let him catch the deep ball. As long as you keep guys like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens from getting 60- and 70-yard touchdowns, you give your team a chance to win.''

By chance, the Chargers' secondary could rally on Sunday. So far, it has been picked on to the tune of 240 yards per game and is ranked No. 26 in the league.

Now here comes Moss with his AFC-high 466 receiving yards (in only four games) on 19 catches good for two touchdowns.

"He commands a lot of attention and he gets it,'' Collins said. "He's No. 1 in getting the ball and we want to get him the ball. There have been some instances where they've put two or three people on him and we tried to get him the ball. That's kind of hard.

"His attitude has been really good and he's not getting frustrated. We're not either, and we're just going to keep trying to be creative and just try to get him the ball."

Which is the opposite of the Chargers' plan.

"I think the key to shutting (Moss) down is playing honest football, said free safety Bhawoh Jue, who leads the Chargers with two interceptions. "Just continually do what you're supposed to do on every play.

"The second you break out of that mold and you try to make a play that's not there is when you're going to give up the big ball or when you fall asleep.''

But the crafty Moss can sometime induce indifference.

"Randy'll walk off the line here and there, even when he's running a route,'' Jue said. "He'll jog the route because he doesn't expect the ball. One of the keys for us is you don't fall asleep on him because more than one time he'll come jogging off the line of scrimmage and he'll throw that hand up, everybody sees it, and then he's flying down the sideline and it's a jump ball and a footrace and you don't want to do that.''

Some teams didn't want Moss, either when he was available out of Marshall or when he was on the trading block last offseason. But the Raiders have embraced him.

"I just think that we've been extremely pleased with Randy as a person and a player,'' Raiders head coach Norv Turner said. "He has a great work ethic. He obviously has great ability. He's come in here and tried to help this team in every way that he can.''