EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – At various times this season, general manager Jerry Reese, head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell have expressed a desire for Damontre Moore to play more snaps. Now they're going to get their wish.
The Giants are thin at defensive end after placing Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers on injured reserve earlier this week. Moore, who has played 27 career games and never started one, is suddenly the team's second-most experienced defensive end, behind Jason Pierre-Paul. In the season's final four games, beginning Sunday in Tennessee, Moore will have a chance to prove whether the calls for increased playing time were justified.
"Man, it's an opportunity," Moore said. "Any time an opportunity presented itself in the past, I've taken advantage of it. I've been waiting for it a long time. I'm just waiting to step up. I've been preparing a lot and then I had a lot of great veteran leadership that was in front of me within these past two years. I got to learn from Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul, so I feel like it's my time and I'm ready to take advantage of it."
It will be interesting to see how much of an opportunity Moore does get. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell wouldn't say if Moore will start against the Titans. So is Moore now prepared to be an every-down end?
"That's a good question," Fewell said. "How prepared is he to be an every-down defensive end? Again, he's a better pass defender than a run defender. He does play the run. We'd like for him to play the run stouter than he plays it right now. But I think that he'll be in a rotation. He won't be an every-down defender for us."
Instead of delving into vague coach-speak, Fewell was very specific when asked about Moore's deficiencies vs. the run.
"Strength, power - those are some of the things," Fewell said. "And discipline. It's a combination of the three – strength, power and discipline."
Fewell said Moore has to work to prove he can be a reliable every-down end and run defender.
"That depends on how much he will get into the weight room, how much strength he develops," Fewell said. "Damontre is a 256, 258-pound man, so he's going up against 300-pounders. You have to have good strength at the point of attack to be able to strike, shed and defend."
"Coming out of camp, he had gotten his weight up," Coughlin said. "He dips a little bit and then comes back up. He's got long arms and this will be a nice opportunity for him."
Moore arrived here last year with a reputation as an outstanding pass rusher. The Giants' third-round draft choice in 2013 recorded 26.5 sacks in 38 games at Texas A&M. Since his arrival, he's been used primarily in situations where he can chase quarterbacks. Moore had no sacks in 15 games as a rookie and 3.0 in 12 games this season – one apiece vs. Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas.
In 12 games, Moore has been credited with 16 tackles (11 solo). He also has six special teams tackles and his second career blocked punt, vs. Houston on Sept. 21.
But Moore believes he is making progress in his quest to become a complete end.
"Experience is our best teacher," he said. "I've had two years to get bigger, stronger and faster and just hone my skills and just take advice from Jason Pierre-Paul, who is such a great mentor. Honestly, I'm just ready to go out there and prove to everybody that I can do it, be an every-down defensive end, not just a third down pass rusher or situational guy. I want to go in there and put my team in the best situation."
Moore acknowledged that consistency has not come quickly or easily for him.
"I think that's one of those things that I internally have to fight with," he said. "Being a young guy and being so accustomed to coming in, playing early as a true freshman in college, I felt like something was supposed to be given me. At this level, nothing's going to be given to you. I feel the same type of way and that's my fault. I prolonged that process. But like I said, experience is the best teacher. Sometimes what they say, a hard head makes a soft behind. That was one of those things.
"I definitely feel like I'm at a point where I want to be, but also, there's always room for improvement and always more room to get better. Honestly, I'm just going to try to get better each and every day. If I'm not doing that, then I'm not doing my job."
Because they're so depleted at defensive end, the Giants need Moore to perform his job exceptionally well in the season's final four games.