- It’s always interesting to see how a college player with concerns about his overall game adapts to an NFL program designed to bring the best out of him. The New York Giants have to feel good about what they’ve done for third-round defensive end Damontre Moore, Von Miller’s replacement as the “Joker” pass-rusher at Texas A&M
In his first preseason action, Moore certainly impressed. He started his Saturday by blocking Drew Butler's punt at the end of Pittsburgh's first drive, and he was just getting started. He hurried quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with 5:50 left in the first quarter, slipping inside left tackle Mike Adams to do so. Roethlisberger completed the pass to Emmanuel Sanders on a quick crossing route, but Moore wasn’t done. On the next play, he shot through the Steelers' line with impressive speed and almost took Big Ben down as Adams slid to the right, and Pittsburgh learned that you can’t put a tight end on Moore and expect that to work.
As the game progressed, Moore showed his versatility by dropping into short coverages, and making impressive effort plays to stop Pittsburgh rushing attempts by doubling back for tackles. Moore’s blocked punt was the splash play, but his overall performance really stood out.
“He’s handled everything we’ve given him, both in OTAs and starting off training camp,” Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn said of Moore in July. “I think he’s going to give us a lot of versatility and do some different things for us, and I really see him contributing as a rookie. He’s got some growing up to do, he’s got to help us on special teams, he’s got to contribute on special teams when he’s called to do so, but the guy is off to an outstanding start, and we have to see what happens when the pads come on. He’s off to a pretty good start.”
The Giants have Moore playing defensive end in their fronts, which contradicts the view of some that Moore would be best served in the NFL by playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Nunn believed early on that there were no worries about that.
“When we saw him on tape against SEC opponents, he showed up every time he did have his hand down,” Nunn said. “He’d show up and pass rush. He’s always close to the quarterback, and he’s always a physical player. He came in here in the OTAs and minicamp and he showed that again. He’s got some rookie in him, there’s no doubt, but it’s the good kind of rookie. He’s someone you have to tell to slow down, you never have to tell him to speed up. He’s off to an outstanding start and, like I said, I really believe the guy is going to contribute early.”
So far, Nunn’s prediction seems prescient. I compared Moore to John Abraham when I watched his A&M tape, and I was happy to see that his excellent effort plays (always a staple in college) were evident so soon in his NFL career. He also looks much faster off the line than I remember.
- Former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar is known for being unsparing in his criticism of players in the booth when he helps call games for the Cleveland Browns, and his attempts to get real when the Browns and St. Louis Rams faced off on Thursday did not go over well with Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Kosar seemed especially unimpressed with the Rams’ receivers. When quarterback Sam Bradford threw an incompletion to rookie Tavon Austin, Kosar quipped that “I really think that he didn’t overthrow him and that Austin has to make that catch in the NFL. I see why Sam [Bradford] has been struggling watching how bad these receivers have been for him.”
When Nick Johnson dropped a pass, Kosar got right to the heart of the matter: “This is actually not a bad throw. These St. Louis receivers are horrible. That’s a drop there.”
Where Kosar may have crossed the line is when he went after Rams receivers coach Ray Sherman. “I’m checking through the itinerary here of guys and coaches to see who the receivers coach is to make sure I don’t know who this guy is, because he’s not doing very good, either,” he said at one point.
And when backup quarterback Kellen Clemens was in the game, play-by-play man Jim Donovan told a story about Clemens giving an autograph to Pope Benedict XVI. Kosar had this to say:
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.”
If Kosar knew the story, he might not have been so flip. Clemens saw the Pope in 2008, when he was a backup for the New York Jets, and he was one of more than 45,000 people to watch an open-air mass at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. At one point during the service, the Pope blessed and kissed Clemens’ infant daughter, moving Clemens to tears.
As you can imagine, Jeff Fisher was not amused by any of this.
“I guess I’m a little disappointed,” he said on Saturday. “I feel bad for them that they had someone doing the broadcast who would feel the need to speak that way about players, specifically on our team, and coaches for that matter. I’m just surprised that Bernie has such a lack of respect for players and for this game. So I lost a lot of respect for him."