Patriots Notebook: Not so fast on Moss decision

Albert Breer

Proclamations that Randy Moss was fit and ready to go may have been a bit premature.

After being left off the team's first injury report of the season on Wednesday, Moss was listed on the Thursday report as having "limited participation" at practice due to a "team decision."

Tom Brady was in the same category with a right shoulder injury, after being listed as having "full participation" in Wednesday's practice. Brady, though, has been on a throwing schedule since the beginning of camp and yesterday, sandwiched inside three consecutive days of practice, would be a logical place for rest.

Moss was present at the 15-minute period of practice open to the media, outfitted in full pads, as he has been all week.

When asked Monday if he'll play in Sunday's opener against the Jets, Moss said, "I guess nobody is telling you anything, so I'll just hold it as a question mark too.

"My thing is that I want to play," Moss continued. "Will I play? I don't know. We'll just leave it at that."

A league source said over the weekend that Moss could've returned during the preseason from a hamstring injury suffered on Aug. 1, but the Patriots coaches and trainers designed a plan to ease him back. Hamstring ailments tend to linger, and the team was looking to take a measured approach with Moss, who has had such problems in the past, so his injury would not recur.

TE Kyle Brady was also listed as having "limited participation" in practice yesterday. Brady was also left off the first injury report, after missing the entire preseason.

TE David Thomas (foot), S Rashad Baker (hand) and DE Mike Wright (knee) were all in the "limited participation" category for the second straight day. Wright was wearing a compression sock over his leg in the locker room yesterday.

Despite all this, the Patriots had perfect attendance for a second straight day.

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During the second week of camp, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called Dan Koppen the best center he's ever been around in making line calls, adjustments and communicating up front. The next week, he called Vince Wilfork "the most complete nose tackle I've ever coached."

What's great about it, to the coach, is that the two get to compete with one another every day in practice.

"They're both competitive and take a lot of pride in what they do, and so they compete well against each other, but not in a negative way," Belichick said. "I think it's a very competitive battle that they have out there. One of the best, on a consistent basis, that I've ever been around."

As a result, both improve. One exposes a hole in the other's game, and works to shore it up. Everyone benefits.

"Just going against him makes you better, because he's a great football player," said Koppen. "He's one of those guys where if you get in the wrong position on him, he's strong enough to come out of that, and quick enough to get around you. ... Having Vince across from you, being able to work against a player like that, can do nothing but help you."

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WR Donte' Stallworth yesterday said that he still feels like he's got a ways to go, after participating in just two of the Patriots' four preseason games.

"It's taken some time, especially with me missing some time in camp," he said. "At the same time, I'm still working to get there. I think that it'll come soon and to a point where I'm extremely confident in the whole offense and what I'm supposed to be doing at that time. Like I said, it's a process."

The Patriots offense, with a myriad of option routes, sight adjustments and hot reads built in, is considered one of the most challenging in the league for a receiver to master. And in the past, having QB Brady's trust has been essential to producing, and Stallworth has said repeatedly that it's a priority to obtain it.

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft was ranked as the fourth most influential man in the NFL in a list compiled by Sports Business Journal. He was the top-ranked owner on the list, and trailed only NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw and ESPN president George Bodenheimer. ...

The Patriots' contract with punter Chris Hanson is a two-year deal, according to NFLPA documents. Hanson was signed on Aug. 29 to replace Danny Baugher.

(Albert Breer is a Daily News staff writer. He can be reached at abreer@cnc.com or 508-626-3872.)