Veteran receiver Moore making seamless transition with Steelers
Those 346 receptions and 38 touchdowns he had in New Orleans apparently don't impress Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore's new landlords.
“They've kind of treated me like an older child,” Moore said, laughing. “But as long as I keep my area clean, I'm pretty good.”
At least Bruce and Miranda Gradkowski aren't giving him a curfew. Moore has reunited with Gradkowski, his teammate and roommate at Toledo, by bunking at the backup quarterback's house until he finds his own place.
But if there's anybody in Pittsburgh that Moore already feels at home with, it's Ben Roethlisberger. They've meshed so well since the start of offseason practices, it's led to an expansion of Moore's perceived role.
Expected to be the slot receiver replacement for Jerricho Cotchery, Moore also is showing up in two-receiver sets as well as the expanded packages.
“Lance is a pro. He's a great professional,” Roethlisberger said. “He's going to be really good, and I think we're going to have a good connection. There were a few things (in practice) that were just a foot off. A pass I threw a little bit outside, he thought I was going in. Those little things we can work on, and that's what camp is going to be about.”
With no clear front-runner to replace Emmanuel Sanders — Markus Wheaton, Justin Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Martavis Bryant are in the mix — the 5-foot-9 Moore might end up as the unexpected starter.
“Over the years, I played more outside, but the last couple of years I was pretty close, 50-50, playing inside and outside,” said Moore, who played eight years with the Saints after a year (2005) on their practice squad. “I'm comfortable with both spots, and it doesn't matter to me. ... (But) we haven't talked about specifics or game plan-type things or how we're going to go into a game with certain personnel groupings yet.”
With four weeks of practices with his new team finished, Moore said, “The thing that jumps out most to me is how much no-huddle we're doing.
“(Roethlisberger) is a very, very smart quarterback. He's seen a lot of ball and played a lot of ball. The quarterbacks that think football and have that cerebral-type mind are the ones who are most successful (in the no-huddle). The ones that maybe aren't so sharp up there or haven't seen as much ball probably aren't going to like it as much.”
Saints quarterback Drew Brees ran the no-huddle about 35 percent of the time, Moore said.
The Saints made clear they didn't like having to cut Moore in a salary-cap move; he later signed a $3 million, two-year contract with Pittsburgh. A team owner, general manager and coach rarely issue separate statements praising a player when he's released, but that's what the Saints did when the well-liked Moore was let go.
“He constantly worked hard to get better, showed great enthusiasm and played a big role in our success,” Saints owner Tom Benson said. “He made a significant contribution off the field to our community. Lance's performance has earned the respect of our entire organization.”
Even if some Saints fans were upset when Moore, shortly after arriving in Pittsburgh, praised Roethlisberger for having a stronger throwing arm than Brees.
“Saints fans are definitely a little bit sensitive if you say something that isn't great about Drew,” Moore said. “They're two different quarterbacks but two great quarterbacks, and I understand why they're mad. But they should understand I was just speaking the truth.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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