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Texans Preparing for Cardinals' Secret Weapon

This Cardinals player could give the Texans fits on Sunday at State Farm Stadium

HOUSTON -- Lovie Smith watched him for three seasons while coaching at Illinois. The Houston Texans defensive coordinator has seen first-hand what kind of damage he can do to opposing teams in coverage. 

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore is not the biggest name amongst the rookies so far in 2021. He's not a consistent weapon for Kyler Murray in the passing game. 

But when he gets his hands on the ball, all Hell can break loose in an instant. Best believe the Texans must be ready for No. 4 to make an impact Sunday in Arizona. 

"He's about as good as a receiver that they have out there, especially in the slot, " Smith said Thursday during his weekly presser. "We'll see him in the backfield. He could be at the No. 1 position, No. 2 position, inside as a third slot or in the backfield."

Moore is positionless. Listed as a wide receiver, Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury would consider him simply a playmaker. In layman terms, one simply finds him in space and lets him work. 

That was the case under Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm during his time with the Boilermakers. The 5-foot-7 receiver primarily saw reps as a slot target, but also lined up as a running back in both the I-formation and in the split-back sets. 

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Moore broke out during his freshman season, hauling in 114 catches for 1,258 yards and 14 total touchdowns. He also recorded 221 rushing yards off 12 attempts for three more scores. 

An injury limited Moore to just four games in 2019 and three in 2020. He would be selected 49th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

With the three-man receiver set of DeAndre Hopkins, AJ Green and Christian Kirk, Moore has been limited in his reps. That doesn't mean he has been impactful.

This season, Moore has caught 24 of 28 catchable balls for 289 yards and a touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks second among NFL receivers in broken tackles with nine. 

Much like in college, Moore is a Swiss Army knife. The Cardinals have used him in their backfield for nine total yards for a total of 60 yards. He's averaging 10.1 yards per reception and 6.7 yards per run. 

"There's a lot of different things they do with him," Smith said. "We have to be ready for them."