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Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Slimmer Moore has defense looking much better

TAMPA - Looking back on it, Kyle Moore can only shake his head. It was like a science experiment gone horribly wrong, and he knew it from the start. He went along with it, though, because that's what you do in the NFL, especially if you're a rookie. So Moore, the former Southern Cal defensive end the Buccaneers grabbed in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, started putting on weight. Lots and lots of weight. By the time he was done, he had put on 22 pounds, which was just what the Bucs wanted. Only problem was, it hung on him like an anchor. "It was bad weight," Moore said Tuesday after a voluntary offseason workout at the team's facility. "It was weight I put on real fast to get me to where they wanted me to be, which was 285 pounds, and it just didn't sit right. I look at the film from last year and I can see it. I was big, and I was real slow getting off the ball. It just wasn't me."
Moore is more like his old self now. He has lost those 22 pounds, and it shows on the field, where he has replaced the departed Jimmy Wilkerson as the Bucs' starting left defensive end. "We feel like he's gained not just one step but maybe two steps, thanks to the weight loss," Bucs defensive line coach Todd Wash said. "His agility, his quickness, that's what he was lacking last year. "He was just real sluggish, even as a pass rusher. But now we're seeing the explosion we saw from him in college again and he's really locked in (mentally) on that left side, too." That's the biggest difference. It might have been all those cheeseburgers he was eating, or maybe it was the heat. Moore isn't really sure. All he knows is he struggled to stay focused off the field last year. At the height of the problem he was nodding off in team and positional meetings and failing the little pop quizzes Wash or a teammate would throw at him to make sure he was grasping the details of the defense. Then he was injured. First it was a groin strain, then a torn meniscus. Both proved to be blessings. Watching from the sideline, Moore finally got a feel for what he had to do off the field to excel on it. "I was on the sidelines, and I was still getting cussed out," he said. "That's when I realized, I've got to get this stuff down. So I started watching the older guys, how they did it, and I got better at that part." Only those on the inside could tell. Moore was still dragging that 22-pound anchor, after all, and he wasn't alone. All of the Bucs' defensive linemen were asked to add weight last year. It was an edict from then-coordinator Jim Bates, who spent more than half the season trying to squeeze round pegs such as Moore into his square-peg system. When Bates and his defense were scrapped after a 38-7 loss to New Orleans in Week 11, Moore was among those who rejoiced. "What we went to, what we're running now, it's real easy for me," he said. "It's the same defense that we ran when I was at USC. There's just some terminology that's different, that's it." Moore's best chance to prove how easy the new defense was for him came on the last day of the season, after Wilkerson went down with a knee sprain just a few plays into the game. Moore didn't necessarily wow anybody. He finished the game with two tackles. He missed only one assignment all day, though, giving an indication that he could handle the left end duties. "We think he's going to be fine there," Wash said of Moore, who is slated to play first and second down at left end and move inside to tackle on obvious passing downs. "We're really excited about him. "He's a guy who can really give guards some trouble on third down and give us some pass rush from the left end, because he's got his explosion back. And what we're seeing from him there is something we haven't seen here in a while."

Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979.

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