I have seen few players with the kind of go-getter attitude Raiders second year linebacker Sio Moore possesses. The former third round pick, after being selected, made the statement that he was the best linebacker in that draft and has gone about working to prove that statement ever since.
Last season he backed up that talk on the field and earned a spot on the All Rookie first team. Those efforts continue this season but now he has a couple new veteran teammates from whom he can glean tips and tricks -- Super Bowl winning teammates Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley.
"I bother those guys before they get the chance," Moore said of Tuck and Woodley. "Every opportunity, you know, I'm doing the hand slap drill with Tuck, I'm doing one with Antonio [Smith], I'm talking to [Woodley] about his rushes, I'm talking to [Charles Woodson]. It doesn't matter on the field off the field.
"I'm talking to Nick Roach. I even go to Nick's house. Nick's been one of those guys for me like a big brother and like a father figure. I've never had a father and to hear a lot of the wisdom and guidance that he provides as a friend and someone I look at as family and as a brother, it means a lot to me."
"You see the detail that they take in their craft, with themselves and how they approach it when they get out there on the field. That's what I try to do every day."
But more than the level of play and experience on the field of these veterans, it's about how they go about their business on a day to day basis that gives their careers longevity. They also in their time have learned from others about how winners prepare and how they carry themselves. Sio is a sponge for all of it.
"I think I've learned more off the field than on, truthfully. It's really just the things you find that are important. The things that you value and you take care of, and really how you personally go about your responsibilities, day in and day out. If you take care of off the field, if you're a football player you're not worried about playing football because football's not the hard part. If you can manage and maintain everything else around that, football becomes so simple. You can only turn to be great, not good at it. That's what I try to take from those guys, all the little things they do, the little details, that they hone in on and that make them who they are."
Woodley in particular has played a very similar role in his career to the duties expected of Moore. He played outside linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 defense and was expected to rush the passer as effectively as drop back into coverage.
Though the Raiders play in the 4-3 base, they offer a lot of 3-4 looks and Moore has and will continue to be expected to rush the passer. Woodley will play defensive end so the two will work alongside each other to get into opposing team's backfields.
"The thing about it is you don't know literally where it could come from at this point," Moore continued. "We have guys that are capable of making a play, whether it be blitzing, whether it be in coverage, whether it be anything. And that's the good part about it. We've got guys that are successful at doing that. It's just a work in progress to continue to make sure we have that ready by week one."
One of the more exciting new pieces to that puzzle is rookie Khalil Mack. He was chosen with the fifth overall pick in the draft and carries great expectations. Moore played at strong side linebacker for the Raiders last season and now moves to the weak side with Mack taking over on the strong side.
Moore was in a similar position to Mack just last year so even though he is just in his second season, he can be a mentor of sorts to help Mack transition to the NFL.
"You take care of your linebackers," said Moore. "I try to give him as many tips and pointers as I can because I was in the same position he was last year. But the thing is he's a good athlete and he's a good kid, he's a smart dude."
"You can see people's raw ability and talent but the thing you can see is right now it's more about learning. When we put the pads on then we can do that but the biggest part it's really about learning and really honing in on your craft and understanding the playbook and he's doing a good job. He's just gotta keep it up."
These things have a tendency to trickle down. Moore learns from the veterans about how to prepare, then he leads by example and imparts that onto Mack. It's a tried and true formula. Then once veterans like Tuck, Woodley, Woodson, and Antonio Smith are gone, Moore and Mack carry the torch. Raiders fans should be pretty excited about the possibilities of that.