With the drafting of two defensive ends – Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers – in the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers essentially put several defensive ends on notice that their roster spots are in jeopardy this season. Two of those defensive ends, Tim Crowder and Stylez G. White, were tendered offers prior to the NFL lockout, but they may not be on the training camp roster or the final roster once the season starts due to the addition of Clayborn and Bowers.
Another defensive end whose career with the Buccaneers is in jeopardy is Kyle Moore, the team’s fourth-round pick out of Southern California in 2009. Due to various injuries, Moore has only played in 15 games over his first two NFL seasons and produced just 43 tackles, two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups – but no sacks. And that’s why the Buccaneers, who ranked second-to-last in the NFL in sacks with 26 QB captures in 2010, spent two draft picks that produced a collective 38.5 sacks in their college careers.
Moore, who was the starting left defensive end for the Buccaneers before a rotator cuff injury limited him to just 29 tackles in eight games in 2010, said he did not take offense to the team drafting Clayborn and Bowers, who figures to be the starting left defensive end once he fully recovers from offseason knee surgery.
“I don’t take offense,” Moore said. “This is a business. I’ve had some starts and stops in my career and rightly so – they should have gone ahead and drafted two defensive ends. Da’Quan Bowers was a great pick. I can’t believe he slipped to the Bucs.
“As for me, and my career, they’ve brought in two defensive ends and I was hurt last year and the year before. It’s a business. It’s a dog-eat-dog business. If one guy can’t do it, they’ll bring in another guy to do it. You can’t take offense to that because that’s how the league works. It was the same way in college. [Former USC] Coach [Pete] Carroll would do the same thing. His motto was the same way they do things in the NFL. If you didn’t want to do it or you couldn’t do it, he would bring in the next freshman to take your position. It’s the same thing in the NFL. You just have to stand up to the challenge and get ready to compete when the pads come on. At the end of the day, it’s all about production.”
Moore’s NFL career began with a some serious production during the 2009 preseason in which he recorded six tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks before a groin injury and a torn meniscus limited him to the final seven games of his rookie season. But since his first preseason, Moore has struggled to get to the quarterback and stay healthy.
The 6-foot-4, 272-pound defensive end said that he has fully healed from in-season shoulder surgery that repaired his torn rotator cuff.
“I’ve been done with my protocols with my shoulder a month and a half ago. I’ve just been getting back to lifting heavy and building up my upper body strength. Everything else has been going smoothly. If OTAs would start I could go today. I’ve had plenty of time to rehab my shoulder.”
Moore will have to stay healthy to prove to new defensive line coaches Keith Millard and Grady Stretz and head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris that he deserves a place in Tampa Bay’s defensive line rotation in 2011 and beyond.
“It’s great because those new guys makes our D-line room more interesting and a lot more competitive,” Moore said. “That’s what we all came here to do – compete. It’s our livelihood. We have to compete to make this team. The only way you can do that is showing up to work every day and producing and showing the coaches you can do it. Adding those two guys to our room will add depth and it’s definitely going to help us.”
A key indicator that Moore’s stock at One Buccaneer Place may be on the decline was when Clayborn was given Moore’s number 94 jersey at his introductory press conference on Friday. Clayborn wore the number 94 at Iowa and general manager Mark Dominik will allow him to keep that number in the NFL.
Moore wasn’t too thrilled to lose his number, but sounds like he is looking for the customary pay day that comes when new high-priced rookies or veterans come to teams and want the jersey numbers of established players.
“Mr. Dominik called me on Friday and said he pretty much promises the first-rounder their own number,” Moore said. “He called me to make sure that was okay. Well, obviously, he already did it, but he wanted to call and make sure it was okay and what was going to happen with my number. I told him that was fine, and I would just tell the rookie to be ready to pay up. A number doesn’t make a player, though.
“Roy [Miller] did the same thing for Gerald [McCoy] last year, but Roy only had 93 for one year. I had my number for two, so it’s going to cost [Clayborn] a little bit more.”
While the draft was going, the drafting of Clayborn, Bowers and other defensive players like Washington linebacker Mason Foster caught Moore’s attention and he began to do some YouTube research on his new teammates.
“I’ve been watching some stuff online on all of our draft picks, and Foster looks like he can add a lot to our linebacking corps with just the way he plays,” Moore said. “I don’t know which linebacker position he plays at Washington and what he’ll play for us, but they see something there they like. I usually don’t pay attention to guys from other Pac-10 teams other than USC, but he looks good. We’ll see.”
The addition of Clayborn and Bowers could mean the departure of White and Crowder, who are the oldest veterans in the defensive line room at One Buccaneer Place. Despite playing in just 15 games at the NFL, the 24-year old Moore would ironically become one of the elder statesmen along Tampa Bay’s defensive line.
“I was talking to Mike Bennett about different scenarios and he would be the oldest guys in the defensive line room [along with Frank Okam] if Stylez and Tim Crowder aren’t back,” Moore said. “I don’t know what’s going on with all this lockout stuff, if they will be back or not. Mike is 25 [along with Frank]. I’m 24 and Roy will be 24 soon. We’re going to have a young D-line room, and I’ll be one of the old guys on the team. It’s crazy. Hopefully the two new coaches they brought in will guide us to where we need to be. Our D-line will have a lot of depth and a lot of skill. It’s going to be a fun year.”
In order for it to be a fun year for Moore in Tampa Bay he will have to take advantage of the time it will take for Bowers to completely rehab his knee and produce by consistently getting after the quarterback. Otherwise Moore could be playing elsewhere in 2011.
“I had some of my teammates call me and ask how I’m doing with the team drafting two defensive ends,” Moore said. “I’m cool with it. Hey, competing is what it’s all about. Being from USC, I’m ready for that. That’s all I know how to do.”
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