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Rondale Moore Not Ahead of Schedule; Cardinals Expected This

The rookie wide receiver from Purdue has had a major role for the Cardinals offense in just two games.

Wide receiver Rondale Moore, the Cardinals 2021 second-round pick, leads the team in catches and receiving yards through two games. 

He has one more grab (11) and 45 additional yards (182) than three-time first-team All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins after he gained 114 on seven receptions in Week 2. 

In franchise history, only Anquan Boldin (279 in 2003) had more receiving yards in his first two career games.

"He definitely is a talented young player who's ascending," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. "He's worked really hard at it. He's studied really hard since he got here with us. And it's good to see that paying off for him."

Moore leads all NFL receivers in yards after the catch by a margin of 4.8 yards, per Pro Football Focus. 

He's been a menace with room to operate, combining speed, body control and vision to miss tacklers and find extra yards. 

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is not surprised with the big start, despite Moore being a rookie. He saw something special in the former Purdue receiver, even on a few social media clips before the draft. 

“I expected it for sure," Murray said postgame on Sunday. "Back before the draft, I sent (general manager) Steve (Keim) a video that was going around on Instagram of his one-on-ones in college. I knew nothing about the kid, I knew nothing about him, but from that video – it was a couple one-on-ones – I just knew he knew what he was doing as far as route-running, how to set guys up. His ability, you could see it. I expected it from Rondale.”

On Sunday, Moore came up big in key moments during the Cardinals' 34-33 win over the Vikings. 

In the second quarter, he scored on 77-yard touchdown play from Murray. 

The defense was in zone coverage, and he got left alone down the field once Murray scrambled to his left. Moore made himself a target for Murray, who needed to find somewhere to throw the ball as he got chased. 

"As he's (Kyler) scrambling, I'm just like, 'Hopefully he sees me,'" Moore said postgame. 

That was Moore's first NFL touchdown. 

Then, only about 1:20 later, the Cardinals had the ball, down by two, with 21 seconds remaining in the first half. 

Kingsbury called two plays that went to Moore in space, and he gained 22 yards to set up a long field-goal try. Kicker Matt Prater hit it from 62 yards out, a field goal that was a difference-maker in a tight game.

On his second catch, Moore made a defender miss with a cut inside, then another with a move toward the sideline, leading him to step out with a second left. 

"I actually looked at the clock, there were two seconds, stepped out and I think there was the one (second) left," Moore said. (19)

That second move made 2019 All-Pro linebacker and Vikings 2020 solo tackles leader Eric Kendricks miss. 

“You see the dynamic stuff he can do in space when he gets the ball," Kingsbury said. "That first guy rarely tackles him."

The Cardinals were in the bottom half of the league in yards after the catch per reception last season. Through two weeks, they sit at No. 8.

The rookie presents more ways to move the ball, even when teams key in on Hopkins like Minnesota did on Sunday. 

“It’s what we felt in training camp when we watched him out there playing with the ones and competing against the top DBs," Kingsbury said. "He went after them and did his thing day-in and day-out and just continued to get better, continued to work at it."

Moore only played seven games over his last two seasons at Purdue. 

He dealt with hamstring injuries and had fewer games to play in 2020 due to the pandemic. Kingsbury believes that had he played more games, there would be no chance for the Cardinals to draft him in the second round. 

After his big game on Sunday, he was calm during his postgame press conference. 

He said that's he's just trying to go to work every day and do his job. 

The season is young, but Moore is quickly establishing himself as a go-to player for Arizona.