Damontre Moore said he doesn't want to be "a one-trick pony." But if he can do that one trick well this season, the Giants will be glad to ride him.
Drafted in the third round as a pass-rush specialist, Moore has shown an ability to shed offensive linemen and get into the pocket against quarterbacks and running backs. In the first three practices, he's had the best showing of any member of his draft class, so much so that defensive line coach Robert Nunn used the word "outstanding" to describe his progress. And when the regular season starts, he could be the most important rookie on the team.
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"He's off to an outstanding start," Nunn said. "I really believe the guy is going to contribute early."
That would be a good boost for the Giants, whose pass rush wilted a season ago. Moore probably won't be a starter or play many snaps for the Giants. At least not at first. But they envision him as a player who can come off the bench for a series or two each game and rattle the opposing quarterback.
"When we saw him on tape against SEC opponents, he showed up every time he did have his hand down," Nunn said. "He'd show up and pass rush. He's always close to the quarterback, he's always a physical player. He came in here in the OTAs and minicamp, he showed that again."
Now he's doing it in training camp. Moore has been dominating the second-team play. His inside pass rush has baffled second-team left tackle Chris DeGeare for the last two days. He's drawn what would have been a number of holding penalties against DeGeare and first-round pick Justin Pugh. And on Monday he showed terrific speed chasing David Carr out of the pocket and forcing him to throw a ball away in 11-on-11 drills.
Moore said he's hungry to size himself up against the first-teamers, to see how he fares against Will Beatty and David Diehl.
"More so than ever," he said after three days of ruling the JV. "But I'm just going out there and just trying to work, and wherever they put me at, I'm going to just go do my job."
Right now, that job is singular. "All I know is they say just get up there, go hard, go get the quarterback and just work your butt off," he said.
But Moore would like to expand his role eventually. He said he wants to be a "well-rounded" defensive end and not just known as a pass rusher.
He's also trying to shed a few other labels that have been stuck to him. When Moore was drafted by the Giants in April, Tom Coughlin noted that he did not have a good reputation as a strong practice player. His intensity was unquestioned in games on Saturday for Texas A & M, but Monday through Friday seemed to be a different story.
His issue with the Giants has been just the opposite.
"He's got some rookie in him, there's no doubt, but it's the good kind of rookie," Nunn said. "He's someone you have to tell to slow down; you never have to tell him to speed up."
Moore smiled when told of Nunn's comments but said he tries to ignore any praise and focus on the constructive critiques that coaches have been giving him. "This is a whole different level, a whole new league," he said. "The competition is bigger, faster and stronger, and at the same time, I have to get bigger, faster and stronger and just improve my game so I can be well-rounded."
For now, though, there's nothing wrong with being a specialist. "You have to have that one good trick up your sleeve," Moore said, "that ace in the hole."
For the Giants' pass rush, Moore could be that ace.