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John DeShazier: Lance Moore attributes longevity to hard work

Posted Jul 26, 2013

Wide receiver is now second-longest tenured Saint behind Will Smith

Only one player or coach has more service as a Saint than Lance Moore’s eight seasons.

Will Smith, right?” Moore said.

Correct. Smith edges him by one season, and that’s a fairly impressive footnote for Moore.

Marinate on it for a moment – an undrafted receiver from mid-major Toledo currently is the second-longest tenured Saint, perched behind Smith, a former first-round pick whose college (Ohio State) is in the same state as Moore’s but whose university’s bloodlines and contribution to the NFL is a few worlds away.

“It would be (shocking to most people),” Moore said. “It’s funny to me that I’ve kind of transitioned from one of the young guys to one of the older guys now. It’s kind of cool.

“Definitely attribute that to working hard, a little bit of luck, the coaches like me here, I’ve been put in a situation that’s great for me to be productive each and every Sunday. I’m definitely enjoying myself.”

It’d be hard to argue otherwise.

Moore is coming off his most complete NFL season. He tied his career high in starts (seven), set a career high in receiving yards (1,041) and yards per catch (16.0), and had his third-most receptions (65) and fourth-most receiving touchdowns (six).

Four times last season, he had games of 120-plus yards receiving and he combined with Marques Colston to give the Saints a pair of 1,000-yard receivers for only the second time in franchise history.

In the five seasons in which Moore has played at least 14 games, he has averaged 59 catches for 732 yards and seven touchdowns.

That’s a healthy payoff for the thousands of hours of work Moore has registered while honing his craft. And it’s proof that, true to its word, the Saints’ staff under Coach Sean Payton has based its roster and players’ playing time on merit rather than status.

Lance Moore

“We go by what we see,” Payton has said on more than one occasion. Which means that free agents like Moore, and the ones on the Saints’ roster this training camp, have equal footing when it comes to earning a roster spot.

“I’m one of the guys that kind of roots for those guys, the (rookie) free agents, the underdogs that maybe nobody’s talking about or nobody knows much about,” Moore said. “When I can, I try to tell them my story, because for guys like that, it can be easy for them to kind of lose faith in what’s going on, try to think too much into things when all you really need to worry about is what you’re doing out there on the field.

“It’s extremely fortunate, and one of those things that’s not very common. Certain places will have guys that they drafted that they’re going to keep no matter what.

“Here, every year we have free agents make this team. It’s not a team that’s only going to keep drafted guys or big-time acquisitions. We’re a team that’s going to take a look at everybody and let the play on the field make their decisions for them. I think that’s a reason we’ve been so successful.”

Guaranteed, it’s the reason Moore has been. The player who arguably has the most reliable hands on the team isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver wearing a New Orleans uniform. But none outwork him, which must be listed as a significant factor in him ascending to the position of full-time starter this season for the first time in his career.

“I know I’m going to be out there, I know I’m going to be playing,” Moore said. “Yeah, it’s cool to start. But I know I’m going to be out there, (so) I just have to make the best of my opportunities.

“I was lucky to be paired up with a quarterback like Drew Brees. There are five or six guys at the top (as quarterbacks) that are just better than the other guys. Drew is definitely one of those guys.”

It helps to have good targets, though. It helps to have players like Moore, who has worn a Saints uniform longer than all but one of his teammates and coaches. And he doesn’t appear ready to hand it back any time soon.