ASHBURN, Va. (AP) – Four years with the New England Patriots netted David Patten three Super Bowl rings and the perception that he was just another cog in coach Bill Belichick’s winning machine.

The rings and the memories he’ll always cherish, but Patten is ready to take his turn as a leader. He is seeking a new degree of satisfaction with the Washington Redskins, a team that overhauled its receiver corps after a woeful offensive output a year ago.

“I’ve been working for this for eight years, and the Lord finally put me in this position. I don’t want to let these guys down,” said Patten, making the point with a voice that grew stronger and more confident with every word.

“I want to take it to a new territory. I’ve always been the second, third, fourth guy. Now I get a chance to come in here and be one of the top guys. It’s going to be exciting, and I feel like the best is yet to come.”

Patten and Santana Moss are the lynchpins of Washington’s smaller but faster attack, the replacements for disenchanted – and since traded – receivers Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner.

Antonio Brown, Taylor Jacobs, James Thrash, Kevin Dyson and Darnerien McCants will also compete for roster spots and playing time, making for a hodgepodge of talent that’s missing an obvious star.

That’s OK, says Patten. The Patriots were the same way. Deion Branch, Troy Brown, David Givens, Bethel Johnson and Patten seemed almost interchangeable at times last season with New England. But now, as a nine-year veteran who turns 31 this month, Patten wants to be the one taking charge when it comes to attitude and production.

“In New England, the thing that we did a great job of was that we had a lot of unselfish guys,” said Patten, who left as a free agent to sign a five-year, $13 million contract with the Redskins.

“If you catch 10 balls, that’s wonderful. But if you catch one, you should have the same excitement because you should be happy about your teammates.”

Patten’s words are carrying weight. He’s already an undisputed leader just days into training camp.

“Look at his resume,” Antonio Brown said. “My ears are wide open to David. Whatever David has to say, Antonio is listening, and hopefully the rest of the younger guys are listening. He’s been around. He’s been consistent. That’s means something.”

Patten’s stats were relatively consistent during his four years in New England, but hardly overwhelming. His best year was 2002, when he caught 61 passes for 824 yards and five touchdowns. He caught only one pass in the Patriots’ three Super Bowl victories, although he missed one because he was injured.

Patten, Moss and Brown are all listed at 5-foot-10, reminiscent of the Smurfs – Alvin Garrett (5-7), Virgil Seay (5-8) and Charlie Brown (5-10) – who thrilled Redskins fans in the early 1980s. Antonio Brown loves it.

“I was looking forward to bringing something different to the team because everywhere I went, I was always the smallest guy,” said Brown, who thus far in his career has been used almost exclusively to return kickoffs and punts.

“Now on this team we have a lot of guys my size. I’m no more of a special little guy. There’s a lot of little guys here around me.”

Coach Joe Gibbs hopes the speedy trio will restore the downfield passing game that was absent last year. Brown, who joined the Redskins late last season, made a nice move to get around embarrassed cornerback Shawn Springs at Wednesday’s practice. Patten’s highlight this week was a 55-yard touchdown play down the sideline. Moss has also been explosive.

So, yes, they are fast. Given their size, they’d better be.

“What we bring to the table is speed, the ability to make plays down the field, and then also to catch the quick passes and turn them up and make something happen,” Patten said. “When you get rid of two starting receivers and you bring two new guys in, that says a lot. We know all eyes are on us.”

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