"The rookie gets hurt right away in preseason and he watches for a few weeks and he falls way behind," Coughlin said after Giants practice Thursday. "Then he tries to catch up and he does make a strong contribution on special teams. To this point, we’ve been healthy at defensive end, so we do have some flexibility of other people playing that position as well."
That, in a no-nonsense nutshell, is the way Coughlin answers questions about why Moore hasn't been a bigger part of the defense so far. The Giants drafted Moore in the third round in April mainly because he'd been a remarkably productive college player at Texas A&M and they thought they could deploy him as a pass-rusher with some effect right away. The preseason shoulder injury did set him back, but he has made an impact as a high-energy special-teamer, most recently blocking the Raiders punt that Cooper Taylor returned for a touchdown in Sunday's victory.
This came up Thursday because starting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul missed a second straight day of practice due to his own shoulder injury. Pierre-Paul was cryptic about whether he'd practice Friday, saying, "We're just working on it" when asked how his shoulder felt and saying of Friday, "If you see me out there, I'm out there," which we all kind of figured but you never know because sometimes the guys doing the laundry mix up the jerseys.
But anyway, if Pierre-Paul can't go, there are a number of possible options. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins could slide out and play end -- a possibility more likely in a game like this, with the Packers using a third-string quarterback and the Giants focused mainly on stopping Eddie Lacy and the Green Bay running game. In that case, Mike Patterson or Johnathan Hankins would take over Jenkins' spot on the interior next to Linval Joseph. But Moore could be a guy who gets more action on obvious passing downs than he's had to this point.
"He can definitely be in the picture," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said of Moore. "He'll be in the picture in our third-down situation, our rush package. We see him making a contribution there."
Moore is an upbeat, energetic and positive young man who says he's enjoying his opportunity to make an impact on special teams and would welcome any opportunity, small or large, that they offered him to do more on defense. Having played behind Von Miller when he arrived at Texas A&M, Moore is familiar with the concept of a young guy having to wait his turn.
"What player wouldn't naturally be excited to get a chance to play more?" Moore said. "But I just want to put the team in the best situation, whether it's me out there, whether it's JPP if he's ready to go. Whatever it takes. Every time I'm out on the field, I'm excited, because there are a lot of people who wish they could be out there."
Moore said the area in which he feels he's improved the most since arriving in the NFL is his weekday preparation -- film study, participation in meetings, things like that. He said the Giants' coaches and veterans helped him in those areas, which weren't high-priority areas for him in high school and college, where his talent carried him. Now, even though he hasn't played as much early as he or the Giants may have imagined he would, he feels more ready for his opportunity.
"Where that preparation comes in is, I'm more comfortable in the scheme, so I can go out there and not have to worry about thinking too much," Moore said. "When I start thinking, that's when stuff starts going wrong. But it's like [Giants linebacker] Jacquian Williams told me: once you have the scheme down, it's basically, 'See ball, go get ball.'"
Sounds simple enough. Sunday could be Moore's first big opportunity to show how good he is at it.