Anatomy of a Play  

 

Moore to offer: Rookie WR providing plenty for upstart Raiders

  • By Greg Smith NFL Films
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Denarius Moore is fast. And who likes 'em fast?

The Raiders.

Speed is a prerequisite for any Al Davis receiver (Cliff Branch, Tim Brown, etc, etc, etc.). What's surprising is not Moore's 4.45 wheels, but rather his overall high level of play this early into his rookie season.

Oakland's fifth-round pick broke out in the Raiders' wild Week 2 loss in Buffalo, with five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. In Week 3 , he turned around Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie a few times, racking up four catches for 34 yards.

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Still, Moore was mostly contained by the Jets, that is, until he cut through New York's defense on a reverse for a 23-yard touchdown.

Now that he is officially a trend -- in the NFL, two weeks equals a trend -- it's time to take a closer look at Moore's last two games.

Most rookie receivers show a lack of open-field awareness, struggling with the relationship of time and space. They run into coverage, instead of finding voids. They cut back into linebackers, instead of taking on cornerbacks. They miss time their jumps on downfield throws. They break too early or too late on routes, often telegraphing where they are going.

But so far, it appears that Moore has skipped much of the rookie learning curve.

He is playing at a pace akin to the Panthers' Steve Smith or the Eagles' DeSean Jackson in their breakout seasons, with an awareness of where defenders are and with utter fearlessness when taking them on.

Of course, it's only two games. I'm not saying he's a Pro Bowler or anything, but I'm curious to see how coach Hue Jackson and quarterback Jason Campbell can maximize Moore's skills in the future.

Jackson, in his first season as the front man in Oakland, has already flat out said Moore will get plenty of chances.

"Give it to 17, Denarius Moore. Let your players make plays," Jackson said. "I'm going to create an environment where our great players can do something special."

Sounds like a coach who is excited about his player. And Raiders fans should be excited, too. They've got a fast guy who can really play.

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