FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Rodney Harrison knows that when he’s working out, he can count on Randy Moss lifting weights in the same room.
Now comes the next test. Can the New England Patriots new wide receiver carry that effort and togetherness with teammates over to practices and games?
“He didn’t lose a step,” Harrison said. “He’s fast, faster and fastest. And having been in minicamp and having those practices with him, I didn’t see him drop one football. Not one.”
Moss will command plenty of attention from fans and the media when the Patriots start training camp today, six months after they blew an 18-point lead and lost the AFC championship game to Indianapolis 38-34.
New England traded for Moss on the first day of the draft April 28, hoping his skills would outshine his troubles once he joined a successful franchise filled with team-oriented veterans.
“He didn’t get in any trouble. He works hard,” said Harrison, a free safety entering his 14th season, fifth with New England. “Every time I’m in the weight room, guess what? I see Randy Moss in the weight room.”
Harrison would like to see cornerback Asante Samuel on the field but understands his contract dispute is part of the business of football. He spoke with Samuel on Wednesday.
“If you sit back and sulk on one guy not being here, guess what happens?” said Harrison, who feels fine after missing all three playoff games with a sprained knee. “The Indianapolis Colts are getting better. The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting better and the San Diego Chargers are getting better.”
Samuel can accept the Patriots’ one-year, $7.79 million offer made when they designated him a franchise player or stay away from camp. He has said he would sit out the first 10 regular-season games. The sides failed to reach a multiyear agreement by the July 16 deadline.
Samuel tied Champ Bailey of Denver for the NFL regular-season lead with 10 interceptions last season.
Moss said frequently last season that he thought he’d be better off with a team other than Oakland, where he spent the past two seasons. During seven years with Minnesota, where he made five Pro Bowls, he was fined $10,000 for pretending to pull down his pants and moon the Green Bay crowd during a Vikings playoff win, and drew criticism for leaving the field with 2 seconds left in a loss to Washington.
Now he’s part of a new-look group of receivers that gives quarterback Tom Brady many options. The Patriots also added Donte’ Stallworth, Wes Welker and Kelley Washington and still have Troy Brown, Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney.
The offense did lose two major contributors. Tight end Daniel Graham signed with Denver and running back Corey Dillon wasn’t re-signed, making Laurence Maroney the starter in his second season.
“One guy can’t go out there and win and lose,” Harrison said. “You understand there’s going to be changes to a roster. Corey was a tremendous back for us. The Patriots did a lot for him. He did a lot for the Patriots.”
Coach Bill Belichick improved his defense by signing free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas, who made the Pro Bowl with Baltimore.
“Bill’s a great talent evaluator,” Harrison said. “He has a vision of what he wants and how a certain player will fit into his scheme.”
The Patriots should be hungrier, Harrison said, after missing the Super Bowl because they squandered a big lead. And they failed to win the past two Super Bowls after winning three of the previous four.
“We’re very optimistic about this year,” he said, “but we still have a lot of work to do. We haven’t even had our first practice yet.”
That comes Friday morning when he’ll get another chance to see what Moss brings to the Patriots.
“He’s made some mistakes in the past. I’ve made mistakes in the past that I regret,” Harrison said. “But the guy is Randy Moss. He’s a great football player and he’s going to make great plays for us this year.
“We’re excited about it.”