Linebacker Sio Moore now wears No. 55 for the Oakland Raiders, the same number formerly worn by Rolando McClain.
After just one game in the NFL, Moore seems to share little else with the ex-Raider.
In his pro debut, Friday night’s exhibition victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the rookie from Connecticut showed an energy and enthusiasm rarely shown by McClain, the former first-round pick now out of the NFL.
The outside linebacker – who sometimes was lined up on the line of scrimmage in a three-point stance – sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on Dallas’ first series and had two tackles.
After his sack, Moore was ecstatic, celebrating wildly. After the game, he was still pumped up. Veteran middle linebacker Nick Roach was excited to see his young teammate scampering all over the field.
“That boy plays with a lot of life,” Roach told the Associated Press. “I appreciate guys that play defense with passion and want to be good, so it was good to see him make some plays.”
Head coach Dennis Allen – who two seasons ago was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos – said he plans to use Moore much as he did Von Miller. Miller would play both stand-up and down positions on the line, sometimes rushing the passer, sometimes dropping into coverage. Miller, a terrific pass rusher, became the Broncos’ biggest asset on defense, and Allen says he can use Moore in much the same way.
“That’s something I see him being able to do,” Allen told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t know if I see him doing it 70 snaps a game. I’m not comparing him to Von Miller … but we did the same thing with him. He can potentially serve that role.”
Moore said the fact he was able to put pressure on the opposing quarterback while going up against much bigger offensive tackles didn’t faze him a bit.
“It doesn’t matter how much you weigh if you have quick, strong hands,” Moore told reporters. “It’s great to me because it means the coaches want to be able to put me in positions and I want them to be able to trust me, and the bigger thing is for teammates to trust me as well. I just want to work for what I have.”
Moore was held out of Sunday’s practice with some minor bumps, but is expected to be back at practice this week and able to play in Friday night’s second exhibition game in New Orleans against the Saints.
When Moore was taken by the Raiders in the third round of April’s draft, Moore proclaimed that Oakland was getting the best linebacker in the entire selection process. And since that time, he’s impressed his teammates and coaches with his work ethic and his energy.
Now, after one game, he’s already become a fan favorite and an intriguing talent who could go a long way in making the Raiders’ defense significantly better in 2013.
Moore now believes he was drafted when he was meant to be drafted.
“Everything happened the way it was supposed to happen,” he told reporters this weekend. “I wasn’t supposed to go in the first round. I wasn’t supposed to go in the second round. I was supposed to go 66th to the Raiders. I was supposed to be put into the situation that I’m in and how it’s all come together and fallen in. I couldn’t be more happy because it’s put me in the hungriest position that I can possibly be and that’s exactly what this team is. We are hungry and we’re willing to work.”