Friday, June 6, 2014
Moore: 'I want to be best linebacker there is'
By Paul Gutierrez
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Khalil Mack falling into the Oakland Raiders' lap at No. 5 overall in last month's NFL draft perhaps affected no one already on the team more than Sio Moore.
As a rookie taken in the third round a year earlier, Moore was somewhat of a revelation. He started 11 games and played in 15. (The lone game he missed came after he suffered a concussion in a car accident.) He led the Raiders' first-year players with 55 tackles (33 solo), 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
But Mack joining the team has forced Moore to switch positions, at least for the time being, as Mack has settled in at strongside linebacker and Moore has flipped over to the weak side in Oakland's base 4-3 defense.
And really, that's just fine with Moore.
"I just try to use my versatility and continue to show our coaches and my teammates that I can do anything on the field," said Sio Moore.
"I did this in college," he said of his time at UConn this week, at the onset of organized training activities (OTAs).
"I started out as a Will and then moved to Sam, where the Sam was an outside linebacker and a down free safety. Moving from Sam to Will here again, it's nothing that's abnormal. I just try to use my versatility and continue to show our coaches and my teammates that I can do anything on the field and I want to continue to work at it, no matter the position."
Of course, being on the weak side will mean Moore's pass-coverage skills will be under more scrutiny, right?
"Based on what the call is," coach Dennis Allen said. "All of our linebackers are going to have to be able play the run. All of our linebackers are going to have to be able to play the pass. All of our linebackers are going to have to rush the passer.
"We'll find ways to get guys that can do those things. We'll find ways to get them on the field."
Besides, while the Raiders' base defense is a 4-3, the personnel may actually suggest a 3-4 is a better fit and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver has promised to show even more multiple looks this season.
"We believe in versatility," Allen added. "When you get into games, the more things guys can do, the better you are going to be able to adjust, change the game plan, make the defense work based on what the offense is doing to you. There will be times where you need more linebackers on the field based on what the offense is doing. Sometimes, you may not need as many.
"Yes, (Moore) has the skill set for that (Will) position and we'll continue to work with him throughout the rest of these OTAs and training camp. Again, we're going to put the best three guys on the field. Whoever those best three guys are, we're going to put them on the field and we're going to go play."
If those best three are indeed Moore, Mack and middle linebacker Nick Roach, the odd man out would be last year's starting weakside linebacker, Kevin Burnett, who is working through an ankle injury.
But Moore has developed a kinship with Roach, one that goes beyond the field.
"Nick has been one of those guys for me that's been a big brother and like a father figure-type role," Moore said. "I've never had a father and to hear a lot of wisdom and guidance that he provides as a friend, and as somebody who I really look [at] as family and a brother, it means a lot to you."
It means almost as much as, if not more than, Moore's on-field objective. Remember, this is the guy who famously said the Raiders drafted the best linebacker in college within an hour of Oakland tabbing him in 2013.
"Right now, my goal is not to be just a linebacker," he said, "it's to be the best linebacker there is. The more that I can do, the more that I can learn, and the faster that I can learn it and the faster that I can produce and be a part of something, then we have a situation."