Ravens' Moore an imposing target

OWINGS MILLS -- In airports, grocery stores and hotels, Clarence Moore experiences multiple cases of mistaken identity. <br><br> Tall and lanky with the build of an NBA shooting guard, strangers always assume the Baltimore Ravens' imposing rookie wide receiver is a professional athlete, just in a different league. <br><br> "That happens every day, they ask me, 'Do you play basketball?'" Moore said. "They never ask me if I play football."

At 6-foot-6, 210 pounds with long arms for a wingspan of 6-11, it's a natural assumption to make.

Of late, the Ravens have put Moore's unique combination of size, leaping ability and speed to good use.

Moore caught two touchdown passes in the Ravens' 20-17 overtime win Sunday over the New York Jets, including a 16-yard route up the middle late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Kyle Boller was so confident in throwing to Moore that he specifically requested the coaching staff call the rookie's number on 3rd-and-11 for his second score.

Moore finished with a career-high five catches for 45 yards in the Meadowlands.

A sixth-round draft pick from Northern Arizona with a championship track background, Moore has emerged as a dangerous downfield target for the NFL's last-ranked passing offense that sorely misses injured Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap.

One of the tallest receivers in the league, Moore has an obvious size advantage against virtually any cornerback.

"I don't know if there's another receiver around that's 6-foot-6 and ½, and we need to take advantage of that," Ravens quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw said. "I learned a lot from talking to Rodney Peete about how he got the ball to Herman Moore: how to give a tall receiver a chance to plant their feet and elevate.

"The guy already has the height advantage. When you can run, jump and have good hands, you've got a player."

Moore has evolved from a Division I-AA prospect hoping to be drafted to an athlete praying he wouldn't be cut during training camp to a starter overshadowing older, more heralded receivers.

Moore caught 182 passes for 3,042 yards and 28 touchdowns in college, but didn't garner much recognition beyond the All-Big Sky Conference team and winning triple-jump conference titles.

"I was on the phone with my agent [Leigh Steinberg] Monday and he was talking about how crazy it's been: just trying to get me known from Northern Arizona to trying to get me drafted to trying to make the roster and now I'm starting on this football team," Moore said. "I've definitely come a long way. I've proven a lot of people wrong."

The rookie is accustomed to overcome adversity and getting acclimated to new environments.

Moore grew up in a single-parent household in Los Angeles raised by his mother, Denea Aguilar, whom he calls his inspiration. The family lived a transient lifestyle, often moving back and forth from Los Angeles to Orange County.

"That opened me up," Moore said. "I always had to make new friends. It's kind of easy for me to transition into new places, meet new people and get along with people on the team."

Moore caught three passes for 82 yards, including a career-high 52-yard reception, in a 17-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Moore skied for a two-point conversion in a win over the Cleveland Browns.

Moore has relatively modest season totals of 14 catches for 177 yards, a 12.6 average and two scores. However, the coaching staff and teammates are enthralled by his vast potential.

"He's a great talent," safety Ed Reed said. "The things you have seen on Sunday, he's a great athlete and can run down the field like a Randy Moss or a Terrell Owens. Scoring touchdowns is what he's here for."

For an offense that averages only 130.7 net passing yards per contest with a total of five touchdown passes, Moore's arrival is timely. The team is hesitant to tag Moore with lofty expectations just yet, though.
"Before we can diversify his role, we need to figure out exactly what his game is, expand on that and see how far we can push him," Shaw said. "It's really early for big-picture, but his goals are high and he'll work to achieve them."

The track and field workouts boosted Moore's ability to soar over shorter defensive backs.

On his final touchdown Sunday, Boller lobbed the football high off the ground where only Moore could grab it.

Moore's vertical leap was measured at 34 inches at the NFL scouting combine. Counting his wingspan of 6-11 and his vertical leap, Moore could potentially extend for a football nearly 10 feet off the ground.
"My leg strength and leaping ability come into play all the time," Moore said.

Moore is aware that he'll have to get even stronger to be able to withstand hits over the middle -- he appeared to short-arm a potential reception in traffic against the Jets -- and improve his downfield blocking.

"I'm long and thin, and I've got to widen out somewhere," Moore said. "Guys are going to try to get physical with me just with the fact that I'm 6-foot-6 and weigh 210 pounds. The weight room is going to be my best friend in the off-season."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and ravensinsider.com


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