Santana Moss is preparing to have surgery done on his broken left hand, according to his Twitter feed. Mike Shanahan announced at his press conference today that he will be out for five to seven weeks.
In the Redskins’ first five games, Moss was the target of 22 percent of the Redskins’ pass attempts (40 of 180). He had 23 receptions for 284 yards and two touchdowns. Somebody else is going to get those targets and catches. But who?
The quick answer is Anthony Armstrong. He missed two and a half games with a hamstring injury. He seemed to be a bit rusty in his return against the Panthers as he caught just one pass for nine yards. Last year Armstrong proved that he could be a solid deep threat as he averaged over 19 yards a catch. But he has yet to prove that he can consistently get open on the shorter patterns that move the chains. Those were Moss’ specialty.
Jabar Gaffney and Fred Davis each had 32 targets in the first five games. Davis may get a few more—he had seven in the second half against the Panthers after Moss went out in the first.
But should Gaffney get more targets? He will be 31 on December 1 and he is under contract for $2.65 million next year. The Redskins have three receivers who they drafted in the past two years on the roster. Shouldn’t they work on developing them rather than continuing to feed to ball to a receiver who may well be gone by the time this team is ready to contend?
Compare Gaffney’s effort against the Panthers, when he had a lazy drop and lost a fumble on consecutive plays, to that of Niles Paul. The rookie has been getting increasing playing time the past two games. He started yesterday against Carolina and after doing a good job blocking most of the day he finally got some passes thrown his way. He made a great, leaping catch for a first down. That kind of effort deserves to be rewarded.
It’s not that Gaffney should be benched or anything. But he should not get more passes thrown his way than he has been getting. Paul has shown that he deserves more snaps and more passes.
Terrence Austin appeared to be the immediate beneficiary of Moss’ absence. After he was targeted just four times all season, John Beck threw his way six times against Carolina. He is likely to see more snaps and get more chances while Moss is out.