Oakland wide receiver Denarius Moore makes a TD catch vs. the Chiefs Sunday. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Denarius Moore ranks just 39th in the NFL in receiving yards, with 419.
He ranks just 67th in catches with 26.
Yet the Oakland Raiders’ second-year wide receiver is rapidly showing the rest of the NFL how dangerous he can be this season and has become quarterback Carson Palmer’s favorite target in the red zone.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Moore’s 9-yard touchdown catch just before halftime gave the Raiders a 13-6 lead, and it marked the third straight game Moore had caught a touchdown pass.
Against the Chiefs, Moore had five catches for 96 yards, including a 58-yarder.
As Moore has fought back from injuries that cut his rookie season short and caused him to miss much of training camp and this year’s season opener, the quick, acrobatic Moore has begun to show his potential as a big-time NFL playmaker.
“I think everybody knows that he’s the guy in our locker room,” Palmer told reporters, when asked about Moore after Sunday’s game. “He’s a young guy. I don’t know if guys around the league know about him yet. … He’s finally healthy. He’s a special player. He’s a great football player, great teammate. He’ll block the run game. He’ll catch the ball. Just a special player.”
In the three Raiders games since the team’s bye week, Moore had five catches for 104 yards and a TD in a loss to the Falcons; caught four balls for 36 yards and a TD in a win over the Jaguars; then had another big day vs. the Chiefs, including the TD catch that put the Raiders up for good as they won their second game in a row and improved to 3-4.
For the season, Moore has four touchdowns and is averaging 16.1 yards per catch. He’s on pace to eclipse his rookie numbers of 33 catches, 618 yards and five TDs.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said it took awhile for Moore to get into top shape and find his rhythm after losing time in training camp, but he’s now showing what he can do.
“Him missing most of the offseason program and missing training camp I think was a significant factor in not allowing him to be as explosive early in the year and I think he’s starting to come on,” Allen said at Monday’s news conference. “I think he and Carson are developing a good feel for each other in the passing game. …
“Remember, he’s still a young player to there’s still a lot of things that he has to learn and a lot of little nuances in the passing game that as he and Carson continue to work together, he’ll get better at.”
Moore isn’t a big receiver, at just 6 feet and 190 pounds. But he’s quick and explosive.
“He can just flat run by anybody in the league,” Palmer said after Moore’s big day against the Falcons two weeks ago.
Said Moore, who will test the Tampa Bay Bucs secondary this Sunday: “I’m back to 100 percent physically. Now it’s just getting the mental reps down, get the little (details down) that I’ve been missing out on.”