FOXBOROUGH -- Forget the fact that receiver Randy Moss exudes confidence and has a presence that commands attention. When he first stepped into the Patriots' locker room, he looked to his left, then to his right, and his stomach churned as if he were a rookie all over again.
"My biggest thing was coming in with a locker right beside Tom [Brady] and Vinny Testaverde," he said. "I think that's where the butterflies came in, just really getting in the locker room and meeting the guys."
Now a few weeks later, Moss said he's feeling more comfortable in his new environment, and a big part of it has been getting out on the football field. Over those 100 yards, he said, is "really where you get your freedom."
It's also where Moss, 30, has proven to be a free spirit over his career, and it's natural to wonder how his approach will fit in with the Patriots' way of business.
"To be honest with you, I don't plan on changing," Moss said yesterday after the team's practice at Gillette Stadium.
"I just want to go out there and play football. Really, anything that you've heard about me, good or bad, some are lies, some are true. I think that the guys are getting to know me and understand that I love to win and carry myself as a professional athlete."
Moss has drawn significant attention and his presence helps explain why a whopping 70 media credentials were issued for yesterday's practice, after which Moss was scheduled to speak.
As Moss made his way across the practice field for his interview, heading toward a small orange cone that marked the spot in which he was supposed to stand, media members jockeyed for position, leading with elbows and sticking their recorders and microphones in front of each other. Who knew the most contact on the field would come after practice?
Moss seemed amused at the crowd awaiting him. Despite professing a dislike for interviews, and telling the media he won't be talking much this season, he played along.
"Start it off, who's got the first one?" he said, kicking off the proceedings.
The first question was how Moss felt about being part of his new team.
"[It was] a long, long anticipation of getting here and getting to camp, getting around the guys and just seeing how this organization is run," said Moss, who shed his No. 6 jersey to reveal a sweat-soaked gray Patriots T-shirt. "I like everything that I've seen and hopefully I can just fit in."
How about differences between the Patriots and his previous two teams, the Raiders and Vikings?
"Football is football. When you're winning everything is good. When you're losing everything is bad," he said. "The only thing I can really say is we have a great group of guys, along with coaches, and I enjoy it. I love coming to work every single day and just being around these guys."
And connecting with quarterback Tom Brady?
"I've always been a big fan of his and now that I'm here playing alongside him, I don't want anything to change," he said. "I'm not going to even try to get in his way in anything that he does and hopefully it doesn't get in the way of anything that I do. I'm just basically talking on the field, because that's one thing that I came here for was to be with this group of guys, the organization as a whole and . . . win some games."
Moss added that he's noticed a similarity in the way Brady and coach Bill Belichick approach their job: seriously. The fast pace of practice has also been an adjustment, as has learning the team's terminology.
"I'm sort of catching on, still sort of like a rookie in a way of making mistakes and jumping offsides and things like that," he said.
As for what Moss could potentially bring to the Patriots, a few examples have been on display in the last two workouts. He's been working on the long ball with Brady, and seems to be at his best when he's going up to snare high arcing deliveries. He also looks like he could be a threat close to the goal line, offering Brady a rangy 6-foot-4-inch target in tight spaces, reaching out with his long arms.
After previously declaring that "the Moss of old is back," Moss explained those remarks yesterday.
"Earlier in my career, I was showing a lot of that and late in my career it sort of got away," he said. "Now that I'm sort of enthused and energetic to be in a position that I'm in, I want to bring the old Randy Moss and that's going and getting it deep and making plays and one-handed catches, all of the above.
"I put a lot of emphasis in the offseason on getting my speed back and getting my body back 100 percent and trying to just come into camp and just impress the team."
As Moss's interview reached the nine-minute mark yesterday, a Patriots team official indicated there would be time for one more question.
The final delivery -- asking if it was fair to say the Patriots took a risk in acquiring him -- rubbed Moss the wrong way.
"All the questions were good and he wanted to come in with that one," Moss said to the crowd, turning around for an opening to escape. "You all take it easy."
And with that, Moss ran his final pattern of the day, leaving the field and putting another practice session with his new team behind him.
Mike Reiss can be reached at email@example.com.