WR Denarius Moore makes a finger-tip catch against the San Diego Chargers in Thursday Night Football. Photo by Tony Gonzales
In the Oakland Raiders 2011 training camp, a little-known wide receiver out of Tennessee put on a show during each practice. Denarius Moore, selected in the 5th round of the 2011 Draft (148th overall), turned out to be the latest Raiders draft steal. During his rookie campaign, Moore compiled 618 receiving yards and five touchdowns and put together three games with 100-plus receiving yards, and was recognized most for his acrobatic and seemingly impossible catches.
Being drafted by the Raiders and then having a successful start to his pro career is a dream come true for the Tatum, Texas-native. "It's a blessing," said Moore. "Everything that happened last year, I didn't see happening until maybe my fifth season in my career. It was so surreal. It's like everything that I've dreamed of happened in what seemed like a snap of a finger."
That snap of a finger came on Day 3 of the 2011 NFL Draft when Moore received a call from the Raiders. "I was actually back at home with my momma and daddy," explained Moore. "The first couple of days, my agent told me that I probably wouldn't get taken, but I didn't want to listen to it so I was sort of putting myself up and then letting myself back down. I remember on the day I got drafted, I just wanted to be alone. I was back there in my room, and got the call. Momma and daddy busted into the room and everyone was yelling. It was amazing."
Without an off-season, Moore's talent finally stood out during training camp in Napa, where he consistently made spectacular catches, and translated practice to game day. "I try not to let it get to me," said Moore. "Everything I was doing in camp, constantly in the playbook, constantly listening to what coach wanted, and then trying to make plays, focusing on the ball…I never letting any of that go, just let that transfer over."
His impressive catches continued throughout the 2011 regular season with circus catches against the Buffalo Bills and a finger-tip catch in the Thursday Night Football match up with the San Diego Chargers. Despite his successes, Moore remains humble and determined to make another big play. "I pretty much don't let it get to me because I know that if I get too excited and then I turn around and drop the next pass, it's always that question, well maybe if he hadn't gotten too hyped up on the first catch…" explained Moore. "I don't want that to happen or for that to be the mindset next time I drop the ball, so when I make a big play, I just let it go and concentrate on the next play."
Now that his rookie season is out of the way, Moore is excited to be back with his teammates preparing for his second year. "It's fun," Moore said. "It's like being at family reunion, seeing family members that you haven't seen in a long time. Everybody is meeting back up at once to accomplish one goal."
Moore's time off was spent visiting his old college and training in Houston and Los Angeles, but is ready to work with the new coaches and his teammates to start of 2012 successfully. "The organization is changing," said Moore on the coaching staff. "They come in with their own mindset, what they want to get done, and they let it be known right off the bat, and we just have to listen to it and go along with it."
Much of his wide receiver corps remains the same, and the guys, friends on and off the field, are working closely with QB Carson Palmer to develop the chemistry necessary for success on the field. "It's been going good," said Moore. "[Palmer] has his set thoughts on what he wants and then compare his wide receivers to his past wide receivers that had great careers and making us watch film on them, showing us those techniques and helping us with those too."
Moore's work and focus on and off the field are what he hopes will give him continued success during the off-season getting stronger and faster, and during the season making plays. The second-year receiver also has goals for the entire 2012 Raiders - "To get the division title, go to the Super Bowl and come together as a team."