The flashes came early, first on the practice field and then the first time Damontre Moore played an NFL game.
If you were watching the 2013 preseason opener against the Steelers, you saw it. The blocked punt in the first quarter. The tackle of running back Jonathan Dwyer, when Moore chased down the running back from the other side of the field in the second quarter. The consistent pass rush that forced starter Ben Roethlisberger and backup Bruce Gradkowski to run for cover.
Many Giants fans surely thought they were seeing the latest in a series of top defensive linemen the team has drafted over the years, a list that includes Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka. But just as quickly as Moore flashed in his NFL debut, he disappeared.
He didn't have a single sack as a rookie, barely got into the defensive line rotation and wound up with only 11 tackles, most of them on special teams.
"My first year, I had a lot of expectations and I got disappointed,'' Moore said Thursday as the Giants began preparations for Monday night's home game against the Colts.
He wasn't the only one disappointed. His coaches were troubled that he couldn't grasp the system more quickly. His teammates, many of whom were skeptical about Moore because of the pre-draft knock against him for his unwillingness to work hard, were equally frustrated.
Now, nearly halfway through his second year, it's time for him to step up. Time for him to establish himself as a force in a pass rush that has been anemic. Time for him to prove that the brilliance he showed in Pittsburgh was a sign of things to come.
General manager Jerry Reese would like to see it. He made a point of saying in his midseason review Monday that Moore "needs to play a few more snaps. I think he needs to be more of a contributor with the amount of snaps that he plays.''
Coach Tom Coughlin wants to see more from Moore, too. Especially with the Giants up against one of the NFL's best quarterbacks on Monday night.
"He's a guy that we've got to get, particularly at this time of year, to do some more rotation of that front to try to keep the guys as fresh as they can, particularly when you're playing against Andrew Luck,'' Coughlin said. "You're going to need that and we would like to be able to get into a system maybe where we can do some more rotating with Damontre Moore and Robert Ayers as well.''
Moore says he has "a lot of things to prove to people.''
Mostly to the ones with whom he shares the locker room.
"Just prove that I know my scheme and that my teammates can trust me and that my teammates don't have to worry looking over at me saying, 'OK, is Damontre going to do his job? Is he going to run the right technique?' '' said Moore, 22. "That's my thing. It's just going out and making sure that nobody has to worry about me and just prove to them that they brought me here for a reason, that I'm ready.''
As spotty as his production has been, Moore's teammates believe he'll break out and become the pass rusher the Giants envisioned when they invested a third-round pick in him last year.
"I'm pretty sure he's going to do a good job,'' Pierre-Paul said. "He's been working hard, and that's a good thing to see in a guy in his second year. He always gets to the quarterback in practice. When it comes game time, you have to put on your cleats and run. He's going to be seeing more plays and I'm pretty sure coaches will put him in the right position.''
Said Kiwanuka, "He still has just as much potential as he did when he came into the league. I believe it will happen for him at some point. It's like our season. There's no reason to panic. When he does have it, everybody will be back all over him, 'Damontre this, Damontre that.' For him as a young man, this is about staying consistent in practice and knowing that it's going to happen.''