Oakland Raiders’ third-year linebacker Sio Moore is heading into next month’s training camp with something to prove. Already a starter and an energetic force on the Raiders’ defense, Moore is recovering from hip surgery and looking to make an impact in Jack Del Rio’s new-look Raiders.
Despite playing just 11 games – all starts at middle linebacker – last season, Moore tallied 67 tackles, nearly double that of his rookie year, and displayed a fiery passion for the game that helped raise the level of the defense as the year progressed. Under the tutelage of veteran leaders Justin Tuck and Charles Woodson, Moore was just emerging as a force until forced to the sidelines with his hip injury.
Now in preparing for a new season, Moore is ready to put it all together, in no small part to the influence of new head coach Jack Del Rio, himself an 11-year linebacker in the NFL, and defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., a veteran of 13 years of is own as an NFL linebacker.
“I’ve had a couple conversations with Coach [Del Rio] and it’s easier to talk to him because one, he wore double nickels [No. 55], and two, he played the position,” Moore told Rebecca Corman of Raiders.com. “Playing linebacker, your head and how you look at things is a little bit different. When you can talk to a guy who understands exactly where you are, exactly what you’re trying to do, it helps. When you’re talking to another linebacker, it’s almost like its own fraternity. Guys understand a lot because we have a lot of the same rigors day in and day out.”
Regarding Norton, Moore told Corman, “Coach Norton is a guy that’s really committed to everything he stands for. He’s creating an environment for everyone that’s in it to stand for that same purpose,” he explained. “The thing about the purpose that’s unique, I think, is it’s not just his own purpose; he allows the players to create the purpose, so it’s not driven from him, it’s driven by us.”
If a healthy Moore can come back to hold down the middle alongside last year’s rookie star Khalil Mack on the outside, the Raiders will have the core of a strong linebacker corps for years to come. And with young playmakers on offense, Raider Nation can now realistically hope for meaningful late season games for the first time in years.
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
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