J’Mon Moore vows ‘bad business’ for DBs when (if) he fixes drops

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.”



Even in preseason, is it time to be concerned about Detroit Lions?

Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer

DETROIT — The images were far too familiar. Matthew Stafford dropping back, seeing his offensive line accordion in front of him.

When he was on the sidelines, he saw his defense do exactly the opposite: Allow his quarterbacking counterparts to get all the time they needed to find an open man and complete a pass. Or have a running back have an easy lane to run through.

This was a theme of 2017 for the Lions – lack of protection for Stafford and lack of pressure on opponents. And it was among the things Detroit supposedly had fixed heading into this season, particularly the bit about keeping Stafford upright. Yet in the second preseason game, none of that really happened.

Stafford, when he was in for three series, was sacked twice. All night, Detroit’s running backs had little to no room to run. Giants backup quarterback Davis Webb had enough time to complete 14 of 20 passes and not get sacked. And New York’s top two running backs – neither of whom was super rookie Saquon Barkley – averaged over 5 yards per carry.

If all of this sounds like a repetition of past years, well …

“It looked bad,” offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins said.

Yes, it is still early. Preseason being preseason, everything should be viewed with the caveats of the lack of game-planning and nuanced play-calling along with players themselves getting into shape and fewer reps to find a rhythm. But as many veterans know and what has played out year over year is this: Early can get late in the NFL faster than any player or coach would like. So a performance like this, preseason be darned, is reason for concern heading into when games really count three weeks from now.

This isn’t a judge of the final score of either preseason game. It’s more that when the starters were in, nothing looked particularly good other than a play here or there. The players and Matt Patricia said all the things you figured they’d say after a game like Friday – they have to get better, it’s still early, it’s preseason. But there was also some acknowledgement of, well, how rough it looked.

“It’s disheartening to see us not perfect our technique. It’s disheartening to see us not execute what we’ve been executing all week,” defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois said. “It’s disheartening not to see certain things that you sit in a building from morning till night going over and then when you get on the field you don’t see it done.

“Like I said, we got two more weeks and [Saturday] is the first day to start correcting these situations and start correcting to stop that run. Because if you don’t stop the run you have a lot of great NFL teams in the league that have good running backs and O-lines that can just move that ball whenever they choose to.”

Every area had issues. Matt Prater missed a field goal. TJ Jones had a drop that led to an interception. The Lions looked discombobulated and at points without any sort of energy.

Had Stafford and the starters played an entire game it’s possible things would have looked different. But based on the small sample size, the Lions look far away from the team they need to be to have success this year. Patricia acknowledged as much, calling what the Lions have to do a “big job in front of us” and that his team didn’t play well at any position.

There’s no denying any of that. It looked like it live. The tape essentially confirmed it. And while yes, it is early, if the Lions don’t get things fixed over the next two weeks things could be really problematic once games start counting in September.

“We have to come together as a group,” Jean Francois said. “The coaches can talk until they’re blue in the face. We have to come together as a team and we have to show Matt Patricia that we can master everything that he asks us to do.

“Because if we don’t, it’s going to be a long season and we ain’t trying to have a long season around here.”


Photo: Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

In Jake Kumerow the Packers trust: ‘No faking it in this game’

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Jake Kumerow is no longer just a fun little training camp story that will be forgotten when the football becomes real in a few weeks.

The 26-year-old from the small Wisconsin school, who’s still waiting to play in his first real NFL game, is here to stay if you ask some veterans in the Green Bay Packers’ locker room.

It’s not just that they’ve seen Kumerow perform in the first two preseason games — he leads the NFL with 190 yards receiving and is tied for the lead with two 40-plus yard pass plays. It runs deeper than the 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown he had Thursday as part of his three-catch, 114-yard game in Thursday’s 51-34 exhibition win over the Steelers at Lambeau Field.

“One of the talks of camp in my opinion,” veteran cornerback Tramon Williams said after the game. “He’s been doing it all camp long. It’s not like he’s just showing up and having fluke games. He’s been doing it all camp long. To see a guy come in like that and work hard, you don’t know his name Day 1. But day after day after day, you’re like ‘Oh man this guy’s pretty good.’ So you start taking notice of him and that’s what you want to see out of guys. And I think Aaron [Rodgers] expressed how much that he’s appreciated the way the guy came in and worked, and that’s the ultimate compliment.”

Rodgers took an immediate liking to the 6-foot-4, long-haired receiver with a significant NFL lineage (his father, Eric, was a former first-round pick and his first cousin is Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa) and that hasn’t waned. Though Rodgers hasn’t played with him in a game yet — his only preseason action to date was the opening series against the Steelers that ended with a touchdown pass to new tight end Jimmy Graham — he continued to toss praise his way.

“From the first time he got here, it’s never been too big for him,” Rodgers said Thursday night. “He continues to make plays, and that’s how you make the squad, you ball out on game day and you do things on special teams when you’re a fringe guy and you give yourself an opportunity, not just for this squad, but for any team watching [number] 16 on film.”

Kumerow, who was signed to the Packers’ practice squad late last season, has been a three-time loser coming out of training camp. He was a camp cut by the Bengals in both 2015 and 2016 and then was an injury casualty last summer when he hurt his ankle.

The Packers drafted three receivers but at this point, Kumerow has to be ahead of all of them. Fourth-round pick J’Mon Moore has had all kinds of trouble catching the ball. Fifth-rounder Marquez Valdes-Scantling and sixth-rounder Equanimeous St. Brown didn’t back up their Week 1 performances with anything significant; each had one catch against the Steelers.

“He’s one of our top receivers in the room,” safety Ha Clinton-Dix said of Kumerow. “You see it. There’s no faking it in this game. It’s not Aaron throwing him the ball. It’s 7 [Brett Hundley] and 9 [DeShone Kizer] and 8 [Tim Boyle]. He’s doing it with young quarterbacks. Imagine when he gets in there with 12 [Rodgers] what he has a chance to do.”

Kumerow quickly became something of a folk hero around Packers’ camp; his in-state ties — he played at Division III UW-Whitewater — made him an immediate favorite. But he might be more than a Jeff Janis — a small-school receiver who was cult hero to fans but couldn’t win over the coaches or his quarterback.

When Kumerow dove into the north end zone at the end of his touchdown catch and it was announced that he was being treated for a shoulder injury — it turned out to be a stinger, he said — his name began to trend on Twitter. On a night with myriad storylines — Rodgers’ first touchdown to Graham, pick-6s for Williams and rookie cornerback Josh Jackson plus Reggie Gilbert’s 2.5 sacks — it was Kumerow who may have stolen the show once again.

“I don’t really try to pay attention,” Kumerow said of the increased attention. “I just try to keep my head down and make a lot of plays. But I do hear a lot more ‘Go Warhawks’ when I’m walking to practice. I like to hear that.”


Photo: Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports