Titans officials say Moss didn't hurt team in 2010 stint

The last time we saw Randy Moss, he went out with a whimper, catching just six passes for 80 yards and failing to get in the end zone in the eight games he played with the Tennessee Titans back in 2010.

But behind the scenes, the man with a reputation as a malcontent and diva handled what was believed to be his NFL swan song with dignity, according to team sources. However, some of the issues that have trailed Moss throughout his career -- a less-than-dogged approach to practice and a tendency to disappear in double teams on game day -- did persist.

Yet, while some in the organization worried things would go the wrong way, they never really did, with Moss playing good soldier in the shadows, a stark contrast to some of the reported problems he had during his short second stint in Minnesota earlier in the year.

The bottom line as the receiver attempts to return to the NFL: If teams looking to investigate Moss more thoroughly call Tennessee, they might be surprised with some of the answers they receive.

"He was great," one team official said. "He was a great personality, he brought an energy to practice. He was constantly talking, but it was all in a competitive way, not a negative way.

"As a player, he's never been a great practice player, but there were no issues. The problem was in games, he'd lose interest, he'd dog it sometimes. ... He gets frustrated with double teams; when he gets bracketed, he'll shut it down, and that causes a problem for you. But as a guy, he was good here."

Said another team official: "He was not a 'hard' practice guy. He was what he's always been, but it was not a detriment."

And the second team official concurred with the first on how Moss conducted himself with teammates.

"He was great with all those guys," the second official continued. "They were in awe of him, and he took the time to get to know everyone. He was a good teammate. He counseled and mentored the guys, and he was a positive influence on them in that way."

So why the lack of on-field impact? According to team sources, there was some internal disagreement not only on bringing in Moss -- the Titans were the only team to put in a claim on him, and did so to try to plug the hole created by a Kenny Britt injury -- but also on how he would be deployed. Since-deceased offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger wanted to stick with younger players who knew the system better than the incoming Moss as primary options and use the receiver mainly as a decoy to affect defensive coverage. Moss didn't embrace the role -- the aforementioned "shutting it down" led to less snaps -- but he also didn't create a larger problem for the team.

"Randy took it in stride," the second team official said. "He didn't bitch. He practiced harder than we thought he would. And I don't think you necessarily can correlate the drop-off (in production) to him being done. He's not what he was, but he's better than he showed (in 2010)."

The first official added: "We had a young team two years ago, and he worked with the younger guys. He pushed them. They respected him immediately, maybe because of his street cred. They loved him."

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What the Titans took away from it was this: Moss' biggest problem will be proving to interested teams that he'd be OK handling a secondary role in the offense and would keep going hard when he knows the ball isn't going his way. If he can do those things, the thought is he could probably fit in somewhere.

"He still has the skills part of it," the first team official said. "The athlete part is diminished, but the hands are there, the smoothness is there. And I'll tell you this: He is a smart football player."

That Titans official continued that he'd worry about some of Moss' bad on-field habits rubbing off on younger guys, but that a veteran team should be able to absorb him. And the second official added he continues to believe that Jeff Fisher, who's now with the St. Louis Rams, is an ideal fit for Moss, with how he caters to veterans and is a player's coach.

So, yes, the belief is that with the right team and right coach, signing Moss could work out for someone.

"I think if you bring him in, he has to be part of an established group," the first official said. "I don't want him on a young team. But if you're the Ravens, of course the Patriots, or the Giants? You just say, 'Hey, this is what we do. Follow it, or you're gone,' and I think you'll be fine. I don't think he's done."

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer

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