New England Patriots: Sterling Moore

Sterling Moore leaves for Cowboys

November, 30, 2012
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Defensive back Sterling Moore has left the Patriots practice squad to sign with the Cowboys' 53-man roster, his agent said Friday night.

Moore was most recently waived by the Patriots on Oct. 31 and re-signed to the team's practice squad. He had been the team's nickelback at the time of his release this year, having played 43 percent of the snaps.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Moore was perhaps best known for being in coverage on Ravens receiver Lee Evans in the AFC Championship Game on an incomplete pass before Billy Cundiff's missed field goal.

Moore played in nine games last season for the Patriots (6 regular season, 3 playoffs) and appeared in the first eight games this season before being waived.

With the acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib, the emergence of rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, and others such as veteran defensive back Derrick Martin offering more special teams value, Moore might have felt his road back to the 53-man roster was blocked and that the Cowboys offered a better chance to play.

Todd Archer of ESPNDallas has that angle covered on the Cowboys blog.

Pats sign Moore to practice squad

November, 2, 2012
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Cornerback Sterling Moore, waived on Wednesday, has been signed by the Patriots to their practice squad, according to a league source.

The 22-year-old Moore played as the team's primary nickel cornerback for much of the first half of 2012, totaling 13 tackles and one forced fumble.

Originally an undrafted free agent of the Raiders out of SMU in 2011, Moore was twice called up to the Patriots' active roster in 2011, and played an important role in the secondary during the team's march to Super Bowl XLVI.

The team added veteran cornerback Derrick Martin to the active roster on Wednesday, and he projects to be a more valuable special-teams contributor than Moore. In addition, the team acquired cornerback Aqib Talib in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. Talib is eligble to be activated from a four-game suspension following the Patriots' Week 10 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

Re-setting the Patriots' practice squad, which has one open spot with just seven current members:

FB James Develin

WR Jarred Fayson

DL Marcus Forston

OL Matt Kopa

CB Sterling Moore

WR Greg Salas

OL Jeremiah Warren

Following up on Sterling Moore move

October, 31, 2012
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Count me among those surprised at the Patriots' decision to waive second-year cornerback Sterling Moore today.

Moore has served as the primary nickel back since the second week of the season, and has played 43 percent of the defensive snaps. His body of work, from this perspective, didn't scream out that he was in danger of being cut.

While Moore isn't a huge factor on special teams, that he'd be replaced by a journeyman special teamer who is unlikely to factor into the defensive mix (Derrick Martin) reflects the view of the coaching staff that he had hit his plateau as a defender, or that the ceiling for his development was low.

Why else would the Patriots be willing to lose a durable player who has logged 43 percent of the defensive snaps?

It's possible that the Patriots are playing some odds here. Moore could still return on the practice squad this season and even in 2013 (if he's not claimed by another team). Had he played one more regular-season game, Moore's future practice squad eligibility would have been affected.

In that case, the Patriots could have the best of both worlds -- addressing what they apparently view as an immediate need with Martin special-teams wise, while still keeping Moore around on the practice squad to add depth at cornerback.

Pats' roster moves: trick or treat?

October, 31, 2012
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In what became a busy Halloween, the Patriots made a number of roster moves, highlighted by waiving cornerback Sterling Moore and adding free agent linebacker Mike Rivera and cornerback Derrick Martin, both of whom were previously with the team.

Passing along some thoughts on everything that went down:

Moore, a hero for the team in the 2012 AFC Championship Game, had evolved into a reserve secondary player who saw his most extensive action of the season against the Rams in Week 8, playing 57 of 63 snaps, according to colleague Mike Reiss. That was in the absence of cornerback Kyle Arrington, who left the game early due to a head issue. It's possible that Arrington could be in line for a Week 10 return to field, as may be safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory.

If all three are healthy, the team may opt to push Devin McCourty back to his natural position at cornerback, which would slide Moore down to fourth on the depth chart at cornerback. Given his limited special teams utilization this season, the team may believe that Martin -- who is known for his special teams ability -- would add more in the back end of the secondary. Veteran Marquice Cole adds depth at cornerback as well.

Should Moore clear waivers on Thursday, he would be eligible to be re-signed to the Patriots' practice squad. With the recent promotion of Malcolm Williams to the active roster, as well as the release of practice squad tight end Alex Silvestro on Wednesday, the Patriots have a pair of open practice squad spots to fill.

As mentioned previously with Martin, he projects to be a player that can contribute on special teams. He was signed in the middle of training camp by the Patriots before subsequently being released as the active roster was finalized. Originally a sixth-round pick in 2006 of the Baltimore Ravens, Martin won a Super Bowl ring in each of the past two seasons as a member of the Packers and then the Giants.

Rivera, who made the Patriots' active roster coming out of training camp, played in two games with the team before being released. He adds depth as an inside linebacker and also on special teams. With Jerod Mayo banged up due to an elbow issue, Rivera provides insurance. The Patriots had him in for a workout last week.

In addition to the roster moves, the Patriots worked out nine players, including three veteran kickers, two punters and a long snapper.

That shouldn't necessarily be taken as an indication that the team is unhappy with any of its specialists, and might be a case of doing due diligence during what is a quiet week for the team as it enjoys its bye. While Stephen Gostkowski has missed three kicks this season, he's bounced back strong in recent weeks and remains an extremely accurate kicker. Punter Zoltan Mesko is among the league's best, and long snapper Danny Aiken is a reliable player at his position.

It's not uncommon for teams to take the time to survey available players via a workout, just to get an idea of what kind of shape and form they are in for reference. Despite the workouts, it would come as a surprise if any of the specialists' jobs are in jeopardy.

Pats waive Moore, sign Martin, Rivera

October, 31, 2012
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The Patriots have waived second-year cornerback Sterling Moore, the team announced Wednesday.

In corresponding moves, the club has signed linebacker Mike Rivera and veteran defensive back Derrick Martin. The team already had an open roster spot after releasing linebacker Bobby Carpenter on Tuesday.

Also, the contract of practice squad tight end Alex Silvestro has been terminated.

Moore, a second-year player out of Southern Methodist, played in all eight games this season for the Patriots (0 starts). His most recent role was as the team's nickel back. In 2011, he appeared in six regular-season games for the Patriots (3 starts).

According to a league source, the Patriots worked out three veteran kickers -- Billy Cundiff, Neil Rackers and Graham Gano. The Patriots also worked out running back Lorenzo Booker, punters Chas Henry and Ryan Donahue, guard Ryan Durand, long snapper Bryce Davis and wide receiver Jarred Fayson.

Bolden, Chung, Lloyd among injured

October, 15, 2012
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SEATTLE, Wash. -- Recapping some of the Patriots' injuries in Sunday's loss to the Seahawks:

Brandon Bolden -- Running back hobbles off after running down the field on a kickoff and doesn't return. Team announces it as a knee injury. Bolden had been on the injury report with a knee injury, which had limited him in practice. He was spotted after the game walking under his own power.

Patrick Chung -- Safety leaves game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury and doesn't return. He still conducts his weekly postgame interview with WBZ-TV.

Brandon Lloyd -- Receiver gets up slowly after making a catch late in the fourth quarter, but returns to game. He goes for tests afterward and walks out of the stadium stone-faced.

Sterling Moore -- Undisclosed injury apparently knocks him out of the final two series, leaving rookies Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner in the game for the critical moments in the fourth quarter.

Matthew Slater -- Special teams captain hobbles off after running down the field on a coverage unit in the fourth quarter and doesn't return. He was in the locker room after the game and walked out under his own power.

Camp Confidential: New England Patriots

August, 9, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- You would think there was a playoff game at Gillette Stadium this week.

Patriots logoIn front of a packed house, the New England Patriots hosted the New Orleans Saints for a pair of high-quality joint practices. Even famous musician Jon Bon Jovi and supermodel (and Tom Brady's wife) Gisele Bundchen showed up for a glimpse of the action.

The talent on the practice field was immense. You had future Hall of Famers Brady and Drew Brees at quarterback, Pro Bowl tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham and two hungry defenses eager to improve. The tempo was fast and intense.

The Patriots could have easily practiced against themselves this week like the rest of the league. But there is a method to Bill Belichick's madness. It's Super Bowl or bust for New England. And even in August, the Patriots want to test themselves as much as possible against another playoff contender.

"We know that there are a lot of other great organizations and teams and players and coaches out there," Belichick explained. "It’s a good challenge every week, and certainly the Saints are one of the top teams in professional football. As I said, they're well-coached, they have great talent, good players, good scheme [and] they win a lot of games. We played against them two years ago, practiced against them two years ago in their championship season. There isn’t any team we have more respect for than the Saints from top to bottom."

The reigning AFC champions are loaded. Their roster is deeper and more talented than last year's team that finished 13-3. With the easiest strength of schedule in the NFL, the Patriots are expected to match or surpass last season's win total. Some pundits even believe a 16-0 regular season is within reach. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

THREE HOT ISSUES

1. How much better is the defense? The Patriots' defense has improved. New England was ranked 31st in total defense and 31st against the pass in 2011. So the Patriots cannot get much worse.

The Patriots invested all their draft picks except a seventh-rounder in defense. The biggest coups were first-round picks Dont'a Hightower at linebacker and defensive end Chandler Jones. Both rookies received a lot of reps with the first team this week and appear to be learning fast. They also provide athleticism and aggressiveness to New England's front seven.

Second-round pick and defensive back Tavon Wilson also has looked better than advertised. Belichick received a lot of criticism for drafting Wilson that high when most projected him to be a fifth- or sixth-round pick. Free agent Steve Gregory also is New England's starting safety and is an upgrade over the rotating door New England had at the position last year.

With a high-powered offense, the Patriots don't need a top-10 defense. But if the defensive-minded Belichick can get this group in the top 20, New England will be very hard to beat.

"We're just trying to be aggressive and be competitive in everything out there," Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty said of improving. "From the front all the way throughout the secondary, guys are just trying to develop an attitude. Defense has a lot to do with attitude and how you approach the game, so we’re trying to keep attitude and trying to do it day in and day out."

[+] EnlargeNate Solder
Stew Milne/US PresswireSecond-year left tackle Nate Solder has shined early in Patriots training camp.
2. Who will man the offensive line? It is difficult to gauge the performance of the offensive line in training camp. About half of training camp practices are in shorts, and that significantly reduces contact in the trenches. But replacements need to be ready because four of New England's starters from last year are injured, retired or contemplating retirement.

New England's offensive line is a M.A.S.H. unit. Starting guards Logan Mankins (knee) and Brian Waters (personal reasons) have yet to practice with the team, and starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer has a back injury. Longtime starting left tackle Matt Light retired, and so did free-agent signee Robert Gallery.

The Patriots are trying to find the right combination up front in training camp in preparation for Week 1 of the regular season. So far, the best lineman in camp has been second-year left tackle Nate Solder, who gained some starting experience last year in his rookie season.

Holdovers such as guard Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell and Marcus Cannon are all trying to carve out roles -- at least until starters Mankins, Vollmer and (maybe) Waters return. Brady and the Patriots will pass the football a lot this year, so development of the offensive line is important.

"We're going to play whoever is here, and whatever happens, we're going to be here working hard," Solder said this week.

3. Who will run the football? Dependable tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis bolted to the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency. That leaves second-year tailbacks Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen trying to pick up the slack in 2012. Neither player has much experience. Ridley did pretty well in limited playing time his rookie year, amassing 441 yards and a touchdown. Vereen was injured most of his rookie season and wasn’t a factor.

Ridley has the inside track and has looked impressive. He has good vision and burst. Ball security has been the only question. But Ridley believes he made rookie mistakes that he will fix in Year 2.

"This year I'm going to go and do the best that I can to keep the ball high and tight," Ridley said. "I know that if I can keep the ball in my hands, I'm going to be on the field. So my work is cut out for me."

Backup running back Danny Woodhead also will assist Ridley and Vereen, particularly on third downs.

Reason for optimism

This is the best collection of talented skill players Brady has ever had. If everyone stays healthy, I do not see any reason the Patriots cannot be near the top of the league in scoring and passing offense. New England should average at least 30 points per game.

Brady has a Pro Bowl tight end in Gronkowski, a Pro Bowl receiver in Wes Welker, a top-five tight end in Aaron Hernandez and a much-needed deep threat in Brandon Lloyd. The Patriots' passing game should be able to do it all. Brady can go underneath to Welker and Gronkowski or deep to Lloyd and Hernandez. It will be very difficult for opponents to game plan.

"We're not taking anything for granted," Brady said. "We're trying to come out and string practices together."

Reason for pessimism

I'm still not confident in New England's secondary. This was the weakest part of the Patriots last year, and 2012 could be a repeat.

Cornerbacks McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Sterling Moore and Ras-I Dowling all have question marks. The Saints’ offense had their way with New England’s corners during this week’s joint practices. No one among the Patriots’ corners made enough plays to really stand out.

Perhaps the biggest problem is New England's corners are not shutdown, man-to-man defenders. That forces New England to play a lot of zone to try to get stops. That leads to a bend-but-don’t-break mentality we saw last year.

Expect many opponents to attack New England's cornerbacks until this group proves it can cover and shut down receivers consistently.

OBSERVATION DECK

    [+] EnlargeAaron Hernandez
    AP Photo/Robert E. KleinNot many tight ends have the athletic ability to be a punt returner. The Patriots' Aaron Hernandez does.
  • Speaking of McCourty, he is playing exclusively at corner in training camp. It shows the coaching staff is comfortable that McCourty will bounce back from a shoulder injury and poor play that led to a position change to safety late last season. McCourty is competing hard and trying to get back to his rookie form, when he made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
  • How athletic is Hernandez? New England is experimenting with its No. 2 tight end at punt return and running back. Hernandez did a good job running the football in the Patriots' playoff win over the Denver Broncos. It was a nice wrinkle added by Belichick. Hernandez is elusive in the open field and has good hands, so returning punts could make sense as another way to get the ball into Hernandez's hands.
  • I'm not sure why more teams do not have joint practices in training camp. Both the Patriots and Saints gave rave reviews of how well things went this week. It was well organized; both teams got a lot of work done; and there were no injuries. Most importantly, it is a change of pace from hitting your teammates the entire summer. In talking with players, they got a kick out of practicing against an unfamiliar opponent.
  • The Brady-to-Lloyd combination is still a work in progress. Brady missed Lloyd on several opportunities this week, as the first-time teammates continue to work on their chemistry. Lloyd is the best deep threat Brady has had since Randy Moss. Brady and Moss got on the same page quickly in their first season together. Brady hopes for the same results with Lloyd.
  • Keep an eye out for undrafted rookie defensive end Justin Francis. I wasn't familiar with the Rutgers product before my training camp visit, but after a few practices, I noticed Francis stood out. Francis has a good motor and athleticism for a defensive end. Francis is a sleeper pick to make New England's 53-man roster, but he must show that he can translate his play on the practice field to the preseason games.
  • The No. 2 quarterback race between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett favors Hoyer at this stage of camp. Hoyer had a solid week of practice leading into Thursday's preseason opener. Hoyer was more accurate and made some nice throws. Mallett has a lot of physical ability but has a lot to work on. He had trouble with taking some of the velocity off his passes when needed. The preseason games will matter most, but Hoyer has the lead so far.
  • Linebacker Bobby Carpenter has been a pleasant surprise for New England. The former first-round pick has underachieved at his previous stops in Dallas, Miami and Detroit. But Carpenter has fit in well as a backup linebacker for the Patriots in training camp and is in good shape to make the team. Carpenter even got a little work with the first team this week because of injuries.

Moore not fined by NFL

November, 18, 2011
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Patriots rookie defensive back Sterling Moore will not be fined by the NFL for an unnecessary roughness penalty he incurred during Sunday's win over the New York Jets, according to a league spokesman.

Moore got flagged after launching himself towards receiver Plaxico Burress while trying to break up a Jets pass attempt at 6:55 of the second quarter. The pass fell incomplete and Moore made more contact with teammate Devin McCourty, who injured his shoulder in the collision, than he did with Burress.

The lack of a fine for Moore suggests officials erred in calling the penalty, especially given an increased emphasis on player safety.

No Moore nerves for this rookie

November, 17, 2011
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The whirlwind of his first career start behind him, you'd think Patriots rookie defensive back Sterling Moore might be able to settle in and enjoy this week's game a little bit more.

"No, I wouldn’t say so," Moore said with a laugh. "It’s usually the same thing for me every week -- preparing like I’m going to be the in game. But it’s a great opportunity for us to continue the success we had in the secondary last week, continue this week with Kansas City."

Moore, elevated from the practice squad last week, played all 72 defensive snaps at safety in Sunday's triumph over the Jets. A cornerback throughout college and the early portion of his NFL career, Moore held his own at an unfamiliar spot, maybe the only real negative coming when he got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, a curious call considering he only made contact with teammate Devin McCourty (leaving him injured in the process).

The 21-year-old admitted to playing with some early butterflies Sunday, but those went away quickly and film review only reinforced the notion that he's simply got to build off the first defensive snaps of his NFL career.

"I was pretty nervous going into the game, but once you get into the game and get the feel of it, you kinda of settle down," said Moore. "It’s the same mindset for me. Like I’ve always said, I go into every week preparing like I’m going to get on the field, so for me it’s the same. You have to be a little bit more vocal now that you’ve been out there and they expect you to know a little bit more."

The biggest challenge of playing safety?

"You have to read a lot more routes when you’re back there at safety, lot more coming at you," said Moore. "At the same time, it’s a lot more freedom, not necessarily guarding one person, you can kinda read the quarterback."

If safety Patrick Chung, held out Sunday with a right-foot injury sustained in a loss to the Giants in Week 9, is able to get back on the field this week, Moore might return to a depth role. That said, the loss of McCourty at corner could open doors for him at his more natural position.

For Moore, he's simply continuing to immerse himself in his playbook, learning the responsibilities for the safeties, outside corners, and slot corners.

"Lot of the same plays, just three different positions," said Moore. "Three different jobs -- that's the hardest part."

Patriots release Moore, Ventrone

October, 17, 2011
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The New England Patriots released defensive backs Sterling Moore and Ross Ventrone on Monday.

Moore was signed off the practice squad Saturday to add depth at cornerback, where injuries left the team thin. He played solely on special teams (punt return unit).

Ventrone has bounced between the practice squad and active roster, filling a void on special teams (playing on the Big 4 units) and adding safety depth on gamedays.

The Patriots already have one open spot on their practice squad from Moore's promotion. It wouldn't be a surprise to see both players back with the team, but the prospects for improved health following the bye week made their spots on the 53-man roster less integral.

Both are practice squad eligible.

Patriots bring a Raider back from Oakland

October, 5, 2011
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Otto Greule/Getty ImagesSterling Moore in action for the Raiders during the preseason.



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It might be no coincidence that, just a few days after the Patriots returned from Oakland, former Raiders cornerback Sterling Moore was added to the team's practice squad on Wednesday.

Moore, an undrafted free agent out of SMU, earned high praise after a strong preseason in which he registered five tackles, a sack, and a team-high three passes defended for the Raiders. He landed on Oakland's practice squad at the start of the season, but was waived late last month.

With the Patriots banged-up in the secondary, you can't help but wonder if Moore left an impression on the team's personnel department while reviewing preseason game film in advance of Sunday's win over the Raiders. Regardless, Moore was in the Patriots' locker room on Wednesday and excited for the opportunity, particularly given the injury situation that could thrust any practice squad member into an immediate active role.

"That’s why I always try to stay ready and prepare like I’m playing this week," said Moore. "You’re always one injury away from being pulled up, so I'm preparing like I’m going to play, and making my reps count. When I do get that chance, I’ll be prepared."

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Moore sported an interesting pair of peg-like earrings and joked he wanted a little something different. Having spent most of his life on the west coast (he grew up in Northern California), he laughed about not knowing many guys in the Patriots locker room and admitted he's getting ready to acclimate to life on the east coast.

Cornerbacks Leigh Bodden and Ras-I Dowling missed last week's game in Oakland, leaving the team thin at that position. In releasing Josh Victorian to clear a roster spot, Moore is the only pure corner on the team's practice squad.

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