TAMPA — Cornerback D.J. Moore’s career has been in a bit of a tailspin the last couple years.
A fourth-round pick of the Bears out of Vanderbilt in 2009, Moore served as then-Chicago coach Lovie Smith’s nickel corner for two years. Like Smith, though, he was let go following the 2012 season.
Moore’s 2013 season ended in similar fashion, though much sooner for the Lakeland native. After signing as a free agent with the Carolina Panthers in March, he was let go in October after playing in two games.
Now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Moore is making a bit of a comeback.
He has spent most of the offseason working again at nickel corner, and according to Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Moore’s experience there has given him an advantage.
“We’ve got some competition there, but D.J.’s history and background kind of gives him the leg up right now,’’ Frazier said this week during a break in the Bucs’ offseason workouts.
Moore’s primary competitor for nickel corner snaps is Leonard Johnson, the former Largo High standout who has started 14 games for the Bucs the past two years.
That’s more starts than Moore has had his entire career, but it looks like Moore’s experience in Smith’s scheme will make him the player to beat for that spot come training camp.
“He’s been in this system and he had a lot of success in it in Chicago,’’ Frazier said of Moore. “Leonard is learning the system and fighting to earn a spot, and we’ve let Danny Gorrer get some reps at that position as well.’’