ROLE PLAY

This standout on special teams could be poised for a bigger role on defense for Texans

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Houston Texans safety AJ Moore was unlikely to even make it this far in the NFL. As an undrafted player out of Ole Miss in 2018, the odds were against Moore even making Houston's roster a few years back. Moore has mostly made his impact in the league as one of the best special team players on the Houston roster. Now entering his third season in the NFL, indications from training camp this summer seem to indicate that Moore might have a much bigger role in Houston's defense.

"AJ plays with a lot of energy," Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien said. "He does whatever you ask him to do. He puts the team first. He's definitely DTS. He's dependable, he's tough, he's smart. He has a really good role on our football team. He's improved on defense. He's improved on special teams. He's a fun guy to coach."

Moore has played 671 snaps on special teams in his first two seasons in the league and only 20 total on defense, all in 2019.

"With getting limited snaps, I've been able to -- when I'm on the sideline, I'm just able to learn," Moore said. "I can still get a feel for the game just looking, but I've been able to grow in the playbook and continue to watch the speed of the game, and so now when I'm in there I can execute at a high level."

Moore has been singled out all summer by his teammates for his drastic improvements in his overall game including strong praise from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

"His confidence, he's a complete player. He's been able to play so many different roles and do so many different things, and he comes each and every day and competed," Watson said. "Regardless if he makes a play or [doesn't] make a play, he's always getting up with great positive energy, positive attitude, and always competing regardless of what the situation is or how he's feeling that day."

Moore has been working towards an opportunity to play more on defense and the Texans hope that Moore's strong play in training camp translates to gamedays starting next Thursday in Kansas City against Patrick Mahomes and the defending champs.

"This is going on my third year now, and of course, I made my role on special teams first, but I've just been trying to continue to get better and better at safety, and that's what I've done," Moore said. "I just continued to work hard and learn and to just grow to get better. That's just been my main focus. I've learned a lot over the years, and I've been able to make a couple of plays for the team, and that's what I'm here for. That's what I want to do."

Jake Asman is a national host on SportsMap Radio. You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM - 10 AM Central.

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TEXANS TRAINING CAMP WATCH

11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorset had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Tegan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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