For an offensive line, this season's New York Jets team has a cast of characters. From the always funny Nick Mangold to the dynamic personality of Damien Woody to the intelligent, contemplative D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the line has enough charisma for the entire locker room. Even the left guard position has created drama this offseason with the competition between Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse.
The man who flies under the radar in the group, however, is right guard Brandon Moore.
"A lot of people didn't know who I was until just recently with the success of the Jets," Moore said after this morning's training camp practice. "I've been doing my job and doing it well for quite a while now. As long as my coaches respect me, my teammates respect me and my family can turn on the game and be proud that the name Moore is on the back of the jersey, I'll be fine."
Known as "Meat" by his teammates, Moore is the unsung hero of the O-line. Mangold, Ferguson and Woody have all made Pro Bowls, but among his teammates and coaching staff, he's just as highly regarded. In fact, head coach Rex Ryan said that "our right guard is as good as there is in the league in Brandon Moore." He's continued his praise of Moore in training camp.
"Brandon Moore is one of the best guards in football," Ryan said. "I'm not the only guy that knows that. Everybody in the league knows it. He knows it. He's tough, and believe me, when he speaks, everybody listens, including myself. He doesn't say much, but when he does he speaks from the heart. He's smart and everybody knows it."
The 6'3", 305-pound Moore was an undrafted free agent pickup by the Jets in 2002 after a career as a defensive tackle at Illinois. After spending time on the Jets' practice squad and for NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores, he converted to guard and ended up making his first start for the Jets in 2003. He then started 13 games in 2004 as Curtis Martin led the NFL in rushing.
Always an underdog, Moore's journey to being a starter in the pros was unheralded, so he's used to the idea.
The Gary, Ind., native was an All-Big Ten selection as a senior with the Fighting Illini before he was signed by the Jets and began his switch to offensive line. It didn't take much time, as the physicality of the position came naturally to him. Understanding that he has to go hard on every play in order to get noticed, he has the coach's ideal approach to the game. Not only does he have the right attitude, but he has the innate ability to learn, which allowed him to make the transition to offensive line so quickly.
"That ability to take coaching," Moore explained his secret. "To take it from the meeting room to the field and being able to apply it. I'm a very coachable person and always looking to get better."
His offensive coordinator is one of those teachers, and Brian Schottenheimer had plenty of positive things to say. Moore, who every day goes into the trenches with a workman's attitude, has started every Jets game since 2005, and yet he still doesn't get the accolades his teammates and coaches feel he deserves.
"He's a guy that maybe doesn't get a lot of publicity," Schottenheimer said. "He's a very quiet, very serious guy. But believe me, teams know about him and D-coordinators know about him. If you could zoom in on the offensive line on one guy and you want to see a dominant performer, Brandon is the guy to take a look at."
And a closer look at that right side of the line shows an impressive combination of Moore and Woody that helped the Jets offense lead the league in rushing yards last season. In fact, the Jets were first in the NFL in the number of rushing attempts over right guard (112) and right tackle (127). That duo allowed Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and the rest of the backfield run for 2,756 yards and 21 touchdowns. While Moore has not been officially recognized for that honor, Woody believes he and Brandon are a formidable force that will potentially help the Jets lead the NFL in rushing once again.
"Both Brandon and myself are pretty in sync with what we have going on over there," Woody said. "I think we're one of the better tandems in the NFL. It's that chemistry and comfort level we have over there. Brandon is a very smart guy and we just play off each other. Sometimes we don't even have to make calls. We just go out there and play football."