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Hobbs holds court

Cornerback Ellis Hobbs talks about playmaking wide receiver Randy Moss, fellow starting corner Asante Samuel, first-round pick Brandon Meriweather, and what the third-year man expects for himself and the 2007 Patriots.

It's called "getting Mossed."

Back home in Texas, Ellis Hobbs and his friends used the phrase often during games of pickup football.

He describes it this way.

"Somebody went vertical over you and pulled the ball away from you. [Randy] made that popular early in his career in Minnesota. I remember watching him as a kid and us playing outside, and that's what we would say. 'You got Mossed!'"

Hobbs, entering his third year as a cornerback for the Patriots, and Moss, for whom the team traded on Draft Weekend, are now teammates. The latter having reportedly been clocked running a 4.29 40-yard dash recently.

Which begs the question: who's faster?

The always-competitive Hobbs pondered this provocative query Wednesday.

"Well, football speed and track speed are two different things," he diplomatically observed. "He's a strider, he has me on that…with each step he's taking, what, 10 yards or something like that?"

Great strides are what Hobbs expects from his prodigious new teammate.

"He's a vertical receiver and I think he's going to come in and help us win a lot," Hobbs predicted. "The sense I'm getting from him is that he just wants to win, and that's what we're all about. Just winning."

Hobbs expects just as much, if not more, from himself after his up-and-down, injury-plagued sophomore season in New England.

"My goal, going into the third year, is to be better than I was my first two years. The thing I want to do this year is to be more consistent than I was last year. What you saw in the playoffs is how I want to play in every game, where you're going to get plays out of me consistently, every down, every series, every game."

Patriots coaches would be thrilled if Hobbs can progress the way his fellow starting corner, Asante Samuel, did last season. According to Hobbs, Samuel's 2006 campaign should have ended in Hawaii.

"Asante…the only thing he didn't get was a Pro Bowl, and I think he got hosed on that."

When Samuel's contract expired this offseason, the Patriots immediately designated him their franchise player. But as of today, he has yet to sign his one-year offer sheet or a long-term deal with New England.

"He's in Florida, he always trains in Florida," Samuel noted. "[The coaches] allow him to do that. He's down there working hard, doing his thing, and hopefully I'll get to see him again."

But if Samuel doesn't return, is Hobbs ready to assume the role of a number-one NFL corner?

"I mean that's how I look at it all the time. Regardless of what the stats say, or whatever, if I'm on the field and I'm starting, I'm looking [to be] the go-to-guy. And I think everybody should look at it like that on defense."

This year, the Pats defense will have a new look, with the addition of free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas, the most coveted player on the market this offseason. And on offense, several prized players have joined the team since free agency began in March.

Hobbs, the confident corner, says he's excited about the moves, but cautions against becoming overconfident.

"I think we're putting out money and we're getting great players. Guys want to come in here and they want to win. Nobody's thinking a lot about [money]. You're getting a lot of these veteran guys in here, and they just want to win. We're on a great path right now, but I don't want to be a paper champ, where we [just] look good on paper…we need to win [the Super Bowl] this time around. I'm not saying that's going to happen, but that's the motivation."

Then there's the infusion of new talent.

This weekend, New England hosts the nine players it drafted last month, plus seven newly signed rookie free agents. Among that crop will be first-round pick Brandon Meriweather, the safety from Miami, with whom Hobbs will work closely in the Pats' defensive secondary.

"I don't know much about him," Hobbs admitted.

However, having been through two full NFL seasons as a DB, Hobbs feels inclined to show his rookie teammate the ropes.

"To make it to this level, and to be drafted at the position that he was, is an honor. But take it for what it is," Hobbs warned. "Don't think too highly of yourself, come in here, keep your head low, listen to what the [veterans] are saying, watch them as role models, and then just come in here and do your job."

Meriweather would be wise to heed his mentor's advice.

Unless, of course, he wants to get Mossed.

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