Avery Moss is distinctly aware of what number he wears with the New York Giants, and how good the player Giants fans associate with that number was.
Moss, a rookie defensive end selected in the fifth round, wears No. 91. That, of course was the number worn by Justin Tuck, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Giants, a former defensive captain and one of the best defensive ends in Giants franchise history.
Moss said he met Tuck at an event with other rookies before the season began.
“When I was growing up my favorite D ends to watch were JPP and Justin Tuck. Seeing him was just crazy and then knowing I’m wearing that number. I’m not just playing for myself. I feel like if I don’t do good I’m disrespecting his number,” Moss said this week. “He’s done some great things in that uniform. It’s a little pressure, big shoes to fill in, but we all need a little bit of something to push us to keep us going. I’ve gotta make my name through that number also.”
Moss didn’t play any defensive snaps throughout the first four weeks. With Olivier Vernon sidelined by an ankle injury, though, he has been a regular part of the rotation the past three weeks.
With three games and 105 NFL defensive snaps now under his belt, Moss said there is “not as much chaos in my mind” as there was earlier in the season.
Moss, 23, described the overwhelming feelings of making his NFL debut Week 5 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
My first play I got out there they said the play and I’m thinking in my head like “what do I do?” It was frightening because you get out there in the bright lights and I’m like “I repped this 50 times and now I’m here, I’m shook, I don’t know what to do.’
He said, however, that “now I’m getting more comfortable with the stuff I’m doing.”
Moss admitted that he had a similar experience when he debuted as a college player at Nebraska.
“They called some crazy blitz and I’m just like I don’t know who I’ve got or where I’m going,” Moss said. “I was just out there.”
Moss made the first impact play of his career Sunday, forcing Seattle running back Thomas Rawls to fumble. Landon Collins came away with the ball, and the turnover led to the Giants’ only touchdown of the game.
Moss said he had “a lot of emotions” about the play.
“Being able to have an impactful moment like that especially as a rookie, first time really out there helped me out a lot confidence-wise,” he said. ““I saw the running back come in. When he was coming in I just saw a lot of open side pad and I was like I want to hit him as good as I can. It hit him and it was an instant feeling. I didn’t see the fumble, but I felt it. Then I heard the reaction.”
Moss and the Giants can only hope the play was the first of many he will make wearing the 91 jersey for them.