When Damontre Moore first arrived to the Giants facility last week, the rookie defensive end found a note in his locker stall.
The note was from Justin Tuck. The defensive captain had a message for the team’s newest quarterback-sacking prospect: "I hope you are ready to work."
"They need to know that this year has to be our best year," Tuck said of the Giants’ second and third-round picks DT Johnathan Hankins and Moore. "I don’t want to call them our weakest link but they are the new guys so they don’t know our system, how we get down. So right now they are our weakest link and you are only as strong as your weakest link."
Let the first lesson begin for the young Moore. The team drafted the productive defensive end out of Texas A&M to augment a pass rush that stalled out last season and learn from veterans like Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka.
And while Tom Coughlin likes what he has seen out of Moore on game film, the head coach said Moore needs to improve on his practice habits leading up to game days.
Moore, 20, is very young and the Giants are ready to mold him into their next pass rushing prodigy.
"That wasn’t one of my strong fortes," Moore admitted of his practice habits. "But I’m here to work and I’m trying to make my weakness my strong point. It’s nothing but motivation and good criticism so for a talented guy to point out my flaws like that and tell me what I need to work on, all that means is I need to go in there and work on it that much harder."
The Giants loved what they saw out of the 6-5, 255-pound Moore on Saturdays. He had a total of 26.5 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M, including 12.5 sacks this past season. He was used in a "joker" role in which he rushed standing up as a hybrid linebacker while also rushing as a defensive end. It’s no wonder why Moore grew up emulating Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has used Kiwanuka in a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role and Moore appears to fit the build for the future.
At the moment, the Giants have Pierre-Paul and Tuck as starters and Kiwanuka could assume Osi Umenyiora’s role as the third pass rusher. Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou will compete for the fourth end spot.
Certainly Moore, who could play on special teams, would like to be in that mix as well when the Giants go to their NASCAR four defensive end package.
"That gives me a lot of excitement," Moore said of being surrounded by experienced and successful pass rushers. "I’m just sitting here trying to soak it all in. I’m ready to get to work and hopefully a little bit of that rubs off on me and I can have a little success."
That’s certainly what Tuck wants to hear. He also wants the rookies to develop thick skin because the ultra-competitive defensive line room is no place for mentally-fragile rookies.
"I want those guys to come in with the attitude knowing that this year is all about working," Tuck said. "It is not about what we have done or haven’t done. It is a brand new year and instill in them early that this team is going to work our ass off to get back to where we feel we should be -- a consistent football team that makes the playoffs and wins the last game."