Johnson whiffs on dunk attempt
KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Ever since the Vikings were eliminated by the Eagles in the NFC divisional playoffs last month, reports have circulated that Minnesota might trade talented but controversial wide receiver Randy Moss.
Saints wide receiver Joe Horn, expecting to catch some passes from Moss' quarterback Daunte Culpepper on Sunday, disagrees with the potential move.
"They would be stupid if they did," said Horn, who was second in the league with 1,399 yards, "but if I traded Randy, I would try to get three first-round picks."
Such a bounty is unlikely, but Culpepper wouldn't be surprised if the Vikings pulled the trigger on a deal this offseason.
"Personally, I hope he's there. He's a great friend of mine, I love him," said Culpepper, who led the NFC with a 110.9 passer rating. "I've worked with him since I've been in the league, but you almost get to the thinking of 'enough is enough' Maybe the Vikings organization has had enough."
Since Moss joined the Vikings in 1998, he has had a minor run-in with the law, received various fines and drew considerable criticism for once suggesting he occasionally takes plays off. However, many of the past incidents paled in comparison to a pair of recent events.
With two seconds left in the season finale against Washington, Moss walked off the field out of frustration and went to the locker room as his teammates attempted to recover an on-side kick. Even though Minnesota still qualified for the playoffs despite the loss, a few teammates suggested that Moss' act was growing thin and his assertion "Randy is just being Randy" had gotten old.
Then against the Packers in the NFC wild-card round the following week, Moss pretended to moon Green Bay fans after scoring a second-half touchdown. The act resulted in a $10,000 fine.
While there are reportedly several teams interested in striking a deal for Moss, at least two obstacles exist: the potential sale of the Vikings and getting equal compensation for one of the game's top players.
Culpepper said he can't envision Moss not being his main threat next year in Minnesota's attack, "but if it happens, life goes on. You have to move on."
Celebration gone wrong
With a couple of fellow college basketball players on his squad, Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson might have been under some peer pressure to "throw it down."
Late during the AFC's practice on Thursday, Johnson caught a pass on a slant pattern and waltzed into the end zone. He then accelerated and leaped to slam the ball over the goalpost. Mission not accomplished. The cross bar got a good taste of the football, resulting in Johnson falling flat on his back. But despite the attempt in front of dozens of witnesses, Johnson claims he wasn't imitating AFC Pro Bowl tight ends Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates.
"I wasn't trying to dunk," Johnson said, with a straight face. "I was just playing."
So minutes later on the very last play of practice, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning raced to the end zone on a sneak and gave the appearance as if he was going to jam it down. However, he raised the ball up, but never jumped.
"Nah. Vertical leap is not one of my strong suits," the record-setting quarterback joked.
Hard to swallow
Andre Johnson was spoiled. But hey, that's the way of life for recent alumni of the University of Miami.
"It was very frustrating and that was the biggest thing I had to deal with my first year," the Texans second-year wide receiver said in regards to losing. "We only won [five] games my first year and coming from college, we were 12-1 and the year before that, we were undefeated."
Last season, both Johnson and the Texans experienced a gradual improvement. Johnson was eighth in the AFC with 1,142 receiving yards and flashed moments of the greatness people projected of him coming out of college as Houston improved to 7-9.
"You always want to do better than you did the year before," Johnson said. "I think that can happen, but it's not going to be handed to us."
In a division that features the high-scoring Colts, improving Jaguars and potentially dangerous Titans, the Texans face a big challenge in vying for a playoff berth. But he already knows that.
"There are a lot of great teams in this league and you just have to go out there on Sunday and give it your all," Johnson said.
James C. Black is an NFL Editor for ESPN.com and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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