BIRDLAND — Falcons safety William Moore battled through an injury-marred rookie season in 2009 before coming on strong after taking over for Erik Coleman in the second game of last season.
He finished last season tied for the team lead with five interceptions and was fourth on the team with 72 tackles.
Moore, a second round draft pick in 2009, is one of the young Falcons who’s most affected by the NFL lockout. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder often praised Moore’s effort and ability. But he would contend that once Moore attained a better understanding of the pro game, he’d have a chance to blossom into a star.
A lot of that teaching and film study would have been going on during this offseason. Instead of receiving additional coaching from VanGorder, secondary coach Tim Lewis and defensive backs coach Alvin Reynolds, Moore is trying to improve with the help of his teammates.
Before a recent seven-on-seven practice in Buford, Moore reflected on last season, his plan to improve and how he wants to develop into one of the top safeties in the league.
Q: Do you and Thomas DeCoud have the potential to be one of the best safety tandems in the league?
A: I definitely think so. DeCoud is a great leader. I look forward to growing with him. At the corner position, I feel like we are stable enough to feed off of those guys. DeCoud is a great athlete. I have to feed off of him. He’s my leader.
Q: How’s your offseason been going?
A: It’s been going excellent. I’ve been doing as much as I could with this lockout going on. As a player, I’m getting better. I’m steady learning the playbook. I’m reading. This time shows how much dedication that you have for your job.
Q: How did you feel last season went for you?
A: Of course, I’m not satisfied. I feel like it went very well as far as what I put into the offseason after my rookie season when I got hurt. I was happy with the year. It was nice to be mentioned for a lot of accolades, but I think I helped the team a lot. I’m looking forward to getting better.
Q: How tough was it taking over for a veteran like Erik Coleman?
A: It was big turn around for me, especially going from special teams the first game to starting the second game and every game after that. I look forward to it. It wasn’t a surprise for me. I just stepped in and took over where I could.
Q: Did Coleman (who’s since been released and has signed with Detroit) still help you out with learning the position?
A: I took a lot from Erik on and off the field. Erik was a great guy. He’s a great pro. He’s the true definition of a pro. He taught me a lot.
Q: Can you develop into one of the league’s top impact players at safety?
A: Safety is a critical position in the NFL as you see with the Troy Polamalus, Ed Reeds, Eric Berrys. I definitely want to be mentioned in that group of impact safeties that can come in and change the ball game. I love to fit the run and now I’m just working on getting back and getting some interceptions to help the team.
Q: What are some things you need to improve on to get to that impact level?
A: Last year, I played with a lot of hesitation. I think in my next season, I’ll definitely go out there with less hesitation. I’ll go out there and play at tad bit faster. In the NFL, that one second can change the whole ball game.
Q: Do you attribute the hesitation to recognition? What you were seeing?
A: Definitely, I was playing against quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers. He could look you off one second and then he’ll come back to you. Without that hesitation and great film study, I’ll just be there waiting on him. You can’t take the bait.
Q: Who was the toughest quarterback you faced last year?
A: I have to go with Aaron Rodgers. Besides the Super Bowl, even if he didn’t win the Super Bowl, I would say that about him.
Q: What are you all missing with the workouts?
A: Of course, the coaching. We need that out here. Especially for a young player like me, the coaching is important. Just the coaches pushing us to go the extra mile sometimes.
Q: Is it tough to replicate the organized team activities?
A: We know we have to take it seriously. We have to coach ourselves right now with this lockout going on. I’m glad to see guys like Julio [Jones] come out here and get better. Nobody made him come out here.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog