The New York Giants let Justin Tuck leave via free agency during the offseason. They are hoping Damontre Moore can be part of the solution to replacing him. Let's look at the second-year defensive end today as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp in just a little more than two weeks.
2013 Season In Review
The Giants drafted Moore in the third round, and he excited fans and the Giants organization right away, blocking a punt in his first preseason game. It was a promise of great things to come, but it went almost entirely unfulfilled during the regular season. Moore injured a shoulder in that game and missed several valuable weeks of practice. The 21-year-old Moore fell far behind and never really became part of the defensive end rotation. He finished the season with 11 tackles, no sacks and nine quarterback pressures in just 136 defensive snaps.
Moore did have his moments on special teams, blocking a punt and making seven tackles. His inexperience showed, however, as he committed a team-worst four special teams penalties. He also had two penalties on defense.
2014 Season Outlook
What will Moore give the Giants this season? That is one of the great questions surrounding the 2014 Giants, and right now there really is no way to answer it.
Will Moore take a step forward toward becoming the next great pass-rushing defensive end for the Giants? A look back through recent Giants' history shows that Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul made huge jumps in their second NFL seasons. Justin Tuck made that kind of jump in his third year. Can Moore follow that path? There certainly is an opportunity for him opposite Pierre-Paul. Moore's competition for playing time is veteran Mathias Kiwanuka and newcomer Robert Ayers. Kiwanuka appears to be on his last NFL legs and Ayers, while coming off a carer-best 2013 season with the Denver Broncos, has never been a full-time starter.
"He's made good, steady progress. He's, naturally, a year later, a year more into it so he's more comfortable with what's going on. It's not one of those things where you don't notice that he's out there because he does have a correction here or there," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "We like what we see. His continued development in the weight room with just some added muscle and strength, a little bit more size is something that will help a lot."
With Tuck gone to the Oakland Raiders and no one certain what the Giants will get from Pierre-Paul, or any of the Giants' defensive ends for that matter, a step forward by Moore would be most welcome.
Moore had said at the end of the 2013 season that he wanted to add some weight to his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame. He is still listed at 250 pounds, but indications are that an offseason in the weight room has added at least a few pounds of muscle. Moore, still only 21, seems to also be growing as a person. There have been reports throughout the offseason detailing Moore's increasing involvement in charitable work, showing the maturity to realize he is in a position to help others.
In the Giants' locker room, Moore also seems comfortable. While most players stick to their cubicle or to socializing with the handful of players nearest to them, during the times reporters were allowed in the locker room during mini-camp Moore was the one player who seemed all over the room. If something was going on anywhere in the room, Moore seemed to be happily in the middle of it.
Will all of that transfer to growth in his play on the field? That remains to be seen, but it is important to remember that at 21 (he doesn't turn 22 until September) he was the youngest player on the roster last season. Along with first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, he is still one of only three players on the roster listed as currently being 21.
During offseason practices Moore sometimes lined up as the first-team left defensive end. He also moved inside to the defensive tackle spot, something Tuck used to do, when the Giants went to the NASCAR package or a hybrid defense with Mathias Kiwanuka as a standup defensive end. The Giants signed Robert Ayers as potential replacement for Tuck, and it still seems likely that Ayers will get the majority of the snaps in Tuck's former spot, but it is obvious the Giants want to give Moore every chance to show them he has taken a step forward from 2013.