Wide receiver Denarius Moore #17 of the Oakland Raiders carries the ball against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium
Since the moment Raiders new quarterback Carson Palmer joined the Raiders, he was amazed with his new rookie receiver, Denarius Moore. In an interview with Sirius satellite radio, when the subject of his receivers came up, he couldn't speak highly enough about his new favorite receiver.
And what's not to like? He saw the same thing we saw the moment he stepped on the field in training camp.
Moore dazzled in training camp. He made some of the most spectacular catches I've seen from any receiver, let alone a rookie fifth round pick.
Those talents were not fully on display through the first seven games of the season, with the notable exception of his five catch, 146 yard performance in the week two loss in Buffalo. In every other game he averaged just over one catch per game for 11 yards. He also had zero catches twice.
But as soon as Carson Palmer was brought on board, all that changed.
In their first full game together in the week 9 game versus the Denver Broncos, Denarius was targeted 12 times and came down with four of those passes for 61 yards.
Palmer had this to say of targeting Denarius in the game against the Broncos:
"My reads have taken me there a lot, but also the position he plays, he's most consistently at that spot. Where the Z-receiver spot is a handful of guys, the F-receiver spot is a handful of guys, and really, Denarius is the X, with a backup also, but I've had a lot of time on task with him and he's a special talent for sure. The X-receiver in any offense gets quite a few more targets, and he will get in this offense also."
In the following week's win over the Chargers, Denarius showed Palmer and the rest of the world just why his new quarterback has such trust in him. He pulled down five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted seven times in the game-more than any other Raider wide receiver.
In the process, Palmer threw five passes that went for more than 25 yards; three of which went to Denarius (46, 33T, 26T) and two of them for touchdowns.
"He can be as good as he wants to be," said Palmer of Moore. "That catch he made in the long fade was amazing. He ran some great routes. He has great hands. He has everything you need to be a successful receiver. It just depends on how great he wants to be, but I'm excited about him. He's a special talent and the sky's the limit for him."
Denarius finished the season catching 33 passes for 618 yards. And that was despite being out injured for nearly four full games late in the season. In the five full games he played with Palmer, Moore had 18 catches for 392 yards and 3 touchdowns. That is an average of nearly 4 catches and over 78 yards per game. It equals out to 58 catches and 1254 yards over an entire 16 game season.
Moore also ended the season with two big games- 4 catches for 94 yards and the game's only touchdown in a critical win over the Kansas City Chiefs and 3 catches for 101 yards in the season finale against the Chargers.
Which leads us to Palmer's latest statements about Denarius:
"I definitely think there's definitely enough talent [on this team]" said Palmer. "You look at Denarius Moore, what he did as a rookie, and he missed a handful of games, was amazing, not statistically or the numbers, but the big plays that he made in big games. Momentum changing plays. Big plays in big games. You look at what he can bring to the table and just talking to him, like I have this offseason and just hearing the excitement of his voice, and the disappointment in his voice that he didn't do more, couldn't do more. Those things like that are what excite me. That's a big time receiver in the making, and he's only going to get better.
I will never fully understand how a talent like Denarius Moore lasted until the fifth round of the draft. But the Raiders can be thankful for his flying under the radar. And Palmer is definitely happy it worked out that way as well.
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