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Damontre Moore could see more action if Jason Pierre-Paul doesn't play

Defensive end Damontre Moore of the New York

Defensive end Damontre Moore of the New York Giants reacts against the Minnesota Vikings during a game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Oct. 21, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Damontre Moore usually spends some time the night before games visualizing the big plays he'll make on defense. The strip sacks, the tackles from behind, the batted down passes.

"I'm like, 'This scheme is really good, I can see myself making a play on this,' '' the rookie defensive end said Thursday.

When the games come around, though, all of those plays remain figments of Moore's imagination. The third-round draft pick was supposed to be a pass-rushing specialist and add another dimension to the defensive pressure on quarterbacks, but instead he's been a seldom-used part-time player whose only flashes have come on special teams.

In the eight games he's played, the Giants have had 563 defensive snaps. Moore has been on the field for just 32 of them. The most he's had is nine in mop-up duty late in the loss to the Panthers. His nickname in college was DaMonster. With the Giants, so far, on defense at least, he's been DaMissing.

That could change Sunday.

Jason Pierre-Paul sat out a second straight day of practice Thursday and his status for the game against the Packers is in doubt by his own admission, so the Giants will turn to Moore to help replace him. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Moore will come in on third downs and other passing situations while Cullen Jenkins will slide from defensive tackle to defensive end to give the Giants more girth on running downs.

"We think that he can get after a guy and if we match him up on the right person, we think that he has value that way," Fewell said. "Nothing inside, but on the edge, that's where his value comes in."

Moore may not agree with the assessment that he can't handle the run -- he quickly pointed out his proclivity for tackles for a loss in college -- but he said he will do whatever the coaches ask him to do. He said he's tried not to pay too much attention to Pierre-Paul's injury this week or what it might mean for him.

"I don't think about all that because when I start thinking that's when stuff starts going wrong," he said.

But he's clearly aware of what could be on the horizon.

"I'm excited a little bit," he said with a big smile. "What other player wouldn't be naturally excited? But at the same time I just want to get out there and help the team, put them in the best situation so that if that's me out there or JPP if he's willing to go, it doesn't really matter."

Moore already has made a contribution to the Giants' three-game win streak. Against the Raiders on Sunday he blocked a punt that was recovered by fellow rookie Cooper Taylor and returned for a touchdown.

It was the third time this season that Moore has gotten his hands on a punt -- he did it in the preseason against the Steelers and again against the Chiefs -- but this was the first time the coaches said he did it properly.

"I'm still in awe that kind of happened," he said. "Honestly I really just cherished it and I can't even describe how it felt."

That's how the career of another pass-rusher began for the Giants. When Pierre-Paul was drafted in 2010, the Giants started him out on special teams, too. It wasn't until Week 12 that Pierre-Paul got his first NFL sack. In that sense, Moore is right on schedule.

Although he admitted that he's never been known for his patience, Moore did say that playing behind Von Miller at Texas A&M taught him the art of waiting. And the benefit. That he missed a good deal of time in the preseason with a shoulder injury slowed his development this season, but it has also allowed him to absorb some more of the requirements of an NFL defensive end.

"I think that kind of helped me out," he said. "It comes with time at different levels. You've got to do the whole fish scheme again, starting at the bottom of the pyramid."

Now, though, Moore seems poised to move up. And those sacks he envisions on Saturday nights could start showing up for real beginning on Sunday.

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