The year is 2011. It’s first and ten yards to go on the Buffalo Bills 50 yard line. Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell drops back, looks to his right, and he heaves the ball down the field. Streaking up the middle of the field toward the end zone is rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore. He leaps into the air above two defenders and grabs the ball. His feet landed on the 2 yard line, and his momentum carried him into the end zone. Touchdown, Raiders!
With Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Jacoby Ford injured and out of the game against the Buffalo Bills, the world was introduced to Denarius Moore and his abilities on one play. Moore would go on to record 33 receptions for 618 yards and 5 touchdowns. However, an injury to his foot would limit the amount of games he played to 13. The 6’ 0” 190 pound receiver had made an impact on Raider Nation.
In 2012, Denarius Moore was promoted to the #2 receiver spot. He recorded 51 receptions for 741 yards and 7 touchdowns. He was the leading wide receiver over Darius Heyward-Bey, Rod Streater, and Juron Criner. Jacoby Ford had suffered a season ending injury and did not play. Only the tight end, Brandon Myers, had recorded more receptions and receiving yards.
The current overhaul of the Oakland Raiders team brought the loss of Darius Heyward-Bey (Indianapolis Colts) and Brandon Myers (New York Giants) in 2013. Head Coach Dennis Allen has claimed that Moore is the number one receiver, and he expects great things from Moore this year. It is Moore’s job to lose.
There is no way around the questions being asked about Oakland’s receiving corp. Nobody has stepped up to prove themselves yet. The last time any receiver wearing the silver and black eclipsed the 1000 yard mark was Randy Moss in 2005, and Raider Nation knows how that turned out.
The excuses could be made for Denarius Moore. Against the number one and number two defensive backs in 2012, he still recorded 741 yards and 7 touchdowns. This he did without the assistance of slot receiver Jacoby Ford and without the assistance of a decent running game. Carson Palmer may have thrown for over 4000 yards and over 20 touchdowns, but he also threw 14 interceptions. Those interceptions came at pivotal moments in each game (i.e., Atlanta Falcons Game). One of the biggest reasons for Moore’s lack of production in 2012 was the amount of dropped balls he had.
A receiver’s job is to run routes, get open, and catch the ball when it’s thrown to him. It’s time for Denarius Moore to step up and prove his worth. He will have some help this year. Jacoby Ford is healthy once again. Rod Streater and Juron Criner will battle it out for the number two receiver position. Ford and Conner Vernon will battle it out for the starting slot receiver position. No matter who emerges as the number one slot receiver, it will be a huge upgrade to have someone there to take away defenders from both outside receivers. Furthermore, the running game should improve and give the receivers more looks.
It’s Moore’s year to have a breakout season and show Raider Nation that he is number one. He has shown flashes of greatness over the past two seasons, but he must do it on a more consistent basis. Whoever is throwing the ball for the Oakland Raiders will have a lot of weapons in their arsenal. We will see more electrifying catches made by Moore in 2013, just like the one he made in Buffalo.