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J'Mon Moore gearing up for competition at receiver

Transition to pro game requires extensive adjustments


GREEN BAY - What a receiver must learn to successfully transition from the college to the pro game makes for a fairly lengthy list.

Reading more complicated coverages, adjusting routes on the fly, getting in and out of breaks faster, knowing the ball is coming sooner and harder, and understanding the defensive backs are smarter than any previously encountered are all on there.

At the top of the list for Packers rookie J'Mon Moore, though, is an item of the more subtle variety.

"Make all your routes look the same," Moore said during the Packers' recent minicamp. "That's the transition. That's what allows you to get open."

It's a big step Moore, a fourth-round draft pick and the first of three receivers the Packers drafted, realized he must focus on as he took the field with NFL DBs for the first time this spring. Not that he didn't already know it, or hadn't worked on it before in putting together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for Missouri in the cover-corner-rich Southeastern Conference.

But in the pros, every aspect of a route is being processed and filed away by a defensive back determined to stay a step ahead. Give away that you're going deep, or running a comeback, or crossing over the middle and you might as well forget about the quarterback looking your way.

"At this level, you have to know how to run your route," Moore said. "Make them all look the same, so the DB can't guess your route, can't jump your route, and the next thing you know, you're getting picked off."

The different types of routes receivers must learn in the NFL increases exponentially, too, according to pass-game coordinator Jim Hostler. Volume in itself is an adjustment, and the increased speed of defenders matches their elevated smarts.

It all adds up to the challenges rookies like Moore face to contribute right away, but if he can overcome them, the opportunity is there.

After Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, the Packers' No. 3 receiver spot is up for grabs. Based on experience and production, third-year pro Geronimo Allison has the early edge, but Moore and fellow draft picks Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown plan to be right in the mix with Trevor Davis, DeAngelo Yancey and others.

Moore's physical build, at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, was a big reason he was drafted higher than any of the aforementioned receivers. Position coach David Raih describes him as a player who "grabs grass" the way he runs.

"He's got stride length, he's high cut and he naturally just covers ground," Raih said. "The main thing is knowing what he's doing, so he can use those abilities."

Those abilities started to shine through as the offseason program wound down. On the final day of minicamp, Moore hauled in a long touchdown pass down the middle from undrafted rookie QB Tim Boyle, and he snagged a short TD on a crossing route from Brett Hundley.

No-pads workouts are only worth so much, of course, and Moore knows he needs to come back for training camp on top of everything mentally because physically the pro game will change yet again very soon.

"The playbook is complex, I'm not going to lie," he said. "But I feel like I'm taking steps every day.

"I'm a competitor, so it brings more out of me. The more competitive it gets, the more I'm on my p's and q's."

As for how the competition will shake out, the simple answer is it'll come down to who gets open the most.

But there's so much that goes into it.

"They say we have a lot of opportunity," Moore said. "They're trusting us a lot, they like us, they want to see us go out there and play. They want to see us play fast."

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