Moore Still Working for More

Running back Mewelde Moore has enjoyed success when given the opportunity as a featured back, but, once again, he'll enter the season as backup and hope to prove his value to a new coaching staff. See what Moore had to say about his role and his versatility.

One of the first players Brad Childress met at Winter Park when he was hired was running back Mewelde Moore. As Childress walked through the weight room to the locker room, Moore introduced himself, and Childress, ever the prepared coach, went on to tell the running back how much he knew about him from his days at Tulane and working out at the NFL Combine before he was drafted.

Right away, Moore and other observers felt the running back would be a natural fit for Childress's West Coast offense, and now in training camp that assumption is still held.

"Just the total versatile game is something that I've been able to embark on – to get in the run game and get in the pass game," Moore said. "I'm one of those guys – I'm a hybrid running back that can run the ball, that can receive the ball, that can return the ball. It's a rarity in this game. A lot of guys may not want to do it, but it's something that I personally hold dear to me because I'm capable of doing it and I want to be able to help my team in any kind of way to win."

Moore would seem to be the Viking most like Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook, who has had success under the same offensive system with Childress and Eagles head coach Andy Reid.

Even in the Vikings' old, more versatile version of offense, Moore excelled. Last year, he led the team in rushing with 662 yards and was third in receptions with 37. He was also the Vikings' leading punt returner, having the third-best average in the NFL and the fourth-best in team history.

"I'm always a ball-handler, so I hold those things accountable on myself," Moore said of his special teams prowess. "I'm going to go out there and really focus on taking care of the football."

Further proof of his versatility: He was the only player in the NFL to score a rushing, receiving and return touchdown last year, and he was only the second Viking to ever do that. He also set a team rookie record with 610 all-purpose yards over a three-game span in 2004.

Still, on offense Moore just hasn't been able to grab hold of that full-time role, despite success when given the opportunity.

He had two 100-yard games last year and back-to-back 100-yard games in his rookie season (Onterrio Smith is the only other Vikings rookie to do that).

"I know what I'm capable of doing, I know what I've done, as far as how I'm capable of applying myself to this offense," Moore said. "I'm just working, just constantly doing what I have to do. Things you cannot control, you just continuously work at things you can control."

What he can't completely control is whether or not he will start. The Vikings signed former Baltimore Ravens running back Chester Taylor to a four-year, $14.4 million contract in free agency this year, so Taylor will get every chance to assume the starting role.

Even though that signing essentially took Moore out of contention to enter the season as the featured back, he said he wasn't surprised by the move.

"We lost Onterrio (Smith) and Michael Bennett. We lost a lot of guys to free agency or whatever you may have and we needed a running back," Moore said. "It was something where a need was met and now we're out here playing football and we're going to continuously plug away at it and work on being as strong and solid as we can possibly be getting ready to go into the season.

"Right now, I really can't say what my roles will be."

His role at this point is as a backup to spell Taylor. But so far in training camp, Taylor has missed some time with a thigh injury, which meant Moore got more opportunities on those days when Taylor wasn't able to practice.

"Mewelde was able to step in there and showed us a little bit of what he can do, and that's what you look for," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "You look for that competition. That guy that's sitting out saying, ‘I better get back in there.' The other guy is doing a good job and giving that guy competition."

Injuries are something Moore knows all about. Coming off his back-to-back 100-yard games in his rookie season, he sprained his ankle the next week and missed the ensuing five games. Last year, he played in all 16 games but was limited with a wrist injury. He had surgery this offseason and says the wrist feels good.

"There might be something here or there, but every football player has some kind of ache or something like that. As far as I'm feeling, I'm 100 percent," Moore said.

He would be doing even better if he could ever hold onto a starting role when given the chance, but injuries have kept limited his success just when he seems ready to take control of the backfield.

Odds are, he'll get another chance to do that at some point this season.


  • Former Vikings cornerback Ralph Brown, who played with the Vikings in 2004 and 2005, has signed with Cleveland. The Vikings elected to not re-sign the free agent.

  • Scott Linehan and the St. Louis Rams signed former Vikings offensive lineman Adam Haayer. Haayer was with the Vikings in 2002 and 2004, and he had played last season for Dennis Green and the Arizona Cardinals.

  • David Mandelbaum, a Vikings partnership owner who was once treated for melanoma, is funding a $60,000 grant to bring "The Wonders of Skin, Looking Good, Being Healthy" to Minneapolis and St. Paul schools. It is an award-winning program for children in K-12 to teach them the importance of skin care. Last year, one million Americans were diagnosed with skin cancer and over 10,000 died from melanoma.

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