GREEN BAY – Tim Boyle didn’t care whether it was a drop or a bad throw on his part.
As soon as the incompletion was ruled on the field during Thursday night’s preseason opener against Houston, the Packers’ backup quarterback planned to go right back to J'Mon Moore should the opportunity present itself.
And it did. Two plays later, Boyle flared another pass to the second-year receiver for a 1-yard touchdown, Moore’s first in-game score since being drafted last year in the fourth round.
“It’s just confidence,” said Boyle after the game. “I haven’t seen the play yet, but (let’s say) he had a drop the play before that and we go back to him, that’s the whole point. That’s football. It’s bouncing back from adversity and playing the next play.”
Moore appreciated his quarterback’s confidence, but still offered a blunt assessment of his play after Sunday’s practice, taking ownership for not catching what he felt was a routine pass.
“I dropped the easy touchdown,” Moore said. “That’s like when you play basketball, you’ve got a wide-open layup and you miss it. It’s just so easy that you messed up. So I was frustrated I didn’t have that one. Thank God I was able to get one a few plays later on third-and-goal.”
Moore’s talent is undeniable. Receivers don’t accidentally have back-to-back, 1,000-yard seasons in the SEC. The first of three receivers the Packers drafted last year, Moore arrived in Green Bay with lofty expectations for that very productive reason.
The only thing holding him back to this point has been confidence and consistency, which occasionally manifest themselves in the form of ill-timed drops like Thursday night.
The most frustrating part is it’s not the tough catches that have been the problem for Moore. Last week, he showed off his 38-inch vertical in bringing in a deep ball near the sideline in the first of two joint practices with the Texans.
To Moore’s credit, he never gets prickly when answering questions on the topic. The way the 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver sees things, these moments are how “men separate themselves from the boys.”
Moore was again honest and straightforward when addressing the media Sunday, offering a glimpse into his mindset amidst the adversity that athletes rarely provide.
“The biggest thing with me, I think, is just relaxing and letting it ride,” Moore said. “Sometimes, I’ll just be out there playing, and my mind is somewhere else. I might be a little too anticipating, too antsy. I’ve just got to relax and be who I am, you know. They drafted me for a reason, and I’ve got a talent that’s behind that. I’ve just got to bring it out, be consistent, and I’m going to make it work for sure – for a long time.”
Moore saw action in 12 games as a rookie, but played sparingly on offense (two catches for 15 yards on 74 offensive snaps). This summer, he’s been a part of a 10-receiver competition for jobs and roles behind two-time Pro Bowler Davante Adams.
Before going to sleep Saturday night, Moore said he had a talk with himself and pondered what he wanted people to think about him whenever he’s done playing football, feeling “I’ve got a lot more than what I’m putting on display.”
Moore felt he came out Sunday with a clear mind, “ready to attack” and responded with a handful of catches – and no drops – in team periods during what Head Coach Matt LaFleur termed “the best practice he’s had all year.”
“I thought today he came out with a whole different energy,” LaFleur said. “And I thought his play reflected that. He made some nice plays in there today. The game was a little so-so for him vs. the Texans, but I thought if he attacks practice like he did today, with that energy, with that attitude… he’s a talented guy.”
Moore will get another shot at impressing LaFleur, new receivers coach Alvis Whitted and the rest of the brass when the Packers travel to face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday.
While Moore also has been introspective about the game, his offseason soul-searching brought him perspective. Athletically, Moore knows he possesses all the tools to be a factor in LaFleur’s offense if he allows the game to come to him. Mentally, it’s about being patient and staying disciplined.
Now, he just needs to put it together on the field.
“They believe in me,” Moore said. “And I appreciate them for believing in me and they know what I can do. I feel like everybody in this building knows what I can do, they’re just waiting on me to do it.”