Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. — For most of the 12 minutes J’Mon Moore talked at his locker Tuesday, he spoke quietly and contritely about how difficult it has been for him to catch the ball — a seemingly simple task considering his job is to play receiver for the Green Bay Packers.
In hushed tones, he admitted things like:
“It’s kind of been something I’ve always had.”
“I know I’m dropping it. I know that’s not what I do. So I know I have to get out there and get some catches in. Something’s not right.”
“I’ve never had this type of funk where I drop deep balls. I don’t do that. I go deep, separate and I haul it in.”
Then finally, when the cameras were gone and it was just Moore and three reporters, the fourth-round pick from Missouri lit up. And in an instant, he returned to the confident — borderline cocky — 23-year-old he appeared to be when the Packers picked him at No. 133 overall.
“Once I get in that zone and I’m just playing, it’s going to be bad business for DBs in this league,” Moore said. “Like it’s going to be bad business for them. Once I can just get to that point, it will be all right. But right now I’m still trying to grasp it.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Moore — the highest pick of the three receivers the Packers drafted this year — needs to make that happen soon. Although fourth-round rookies aren’t often cut — the Packers last dumped one in 2006 (WR Cory Rodgers from TCU) — it can’t be ruled out at this point. Not when you consider so many of Moore’s drops have come on the biggest stage.
He dropped a touchdown on a fade route during the Aug. 4 Family Night practice at Lambeau Field. He dropped two passes in the preseason opener against the Titans on Aug. 9 and let another deep ball go through his hands in the second preseason game against the Steelers on Aug. 16. He has just one more practice and two more preseason games (Friday at Oakland and the following Thursday at Kansas City) to turn things around.
To this point, rookies Marques Valdes-Scantling (fifth round) and Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth round), plus former practice-squad receiver Jake Kumerow all probably rank ahead of Moore on the depth chart.
“I think about it, you know, because anybody can get cut any given day,” Moore said. “But me being me, me playing how I play and knowing what I bring to the table, I don’t really worry about it. I’ve just got to catch the ball. That’s all I’ve got to do. I know how to separate, I know how to make people miss. I’ve just got to catch it.”
Moore hasn’t ignored the issue. He worked off the JUGS machine both before and after practice Tuesday. He outlasted all the receivers after the session, getting extra work in the “Man Hands” drill.
“That’s just always been my downfall in my game is that I don’t look the ball in,” Moore said. “That’s something that my old receiver coach used to try to make me [do]. It’s just a habit that I had. I never looked the ball in. My eyes, I kind of get just too cool with it.”
The first sign that he might be on the verge of coming out of his funk came in Tuesday’s practice, when he caught — albeit with a bobble — a deep ball against cornerback Quinten Rollins during the 1-on-1 drills.
“It was about getting back my mojo today,” Moore said after practice. “I felt good about today. I feel good about Friday. I’ll make something to happen for sure.”
Moore said veteran receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb along with quarterback Aaron Rodgers all have helped keep his spirits up. As tough as Rodgers can be on young receivers, he also won’t fault a player for a physical mistake like a drop.
Moore said Rodgers told him just this week that he believes he can play in the NFL for a long time. And then Moore said Rodgers asked him if he believed it. Moore, of course, answered in the affirmative.
“Just need that one big play,” Rodgers said. “I think just one catch and run or going up over somebody and making a big play or getting loose on the sideline; it just takes one play for some of those guys to get going and he’s had a couple of opportunities and hasn’t made them in the game, but he’s made a lot of plays in practice and he’s figuring out what to do and running the routes. And it’s just a matter of executing and being able to relax in those moments, just the easy plays is needed at those times. Once you start to stack a couple of those plays together, he starts getting more comfortable and you’re going to see some good play out of him, I think.”
Photo: Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK