Moore hopes bulk strengthens resolve

Looking to be a starter, receiver has added 13 pounds in offseason


August 06, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Clarence Moore's offseason travels were limited to Outback Steakhouse, the Cheesecake Factory and the Ravens' training complex.

The rail-thin receiver decided to stay in town nearly year-round, where he ate, worked out and ate some more. If his hands weren't wrapped around some weights, they were clamped onto plates of steak, shrimp and pasta.

"My metabolism is so fast they said, `Just eat,' " Moore said.

Moore will show off his new look today at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens will scrimmage the Washington Redskins at noon. Bulking up to 218 pounds - 13 pounds heavier than his weight at the end of last season - Moore will line up with the starters.

The Ravens view Moore as the ideal complement to Derrick Mason, believing his height (6 feet 6) and leaping ability provide balance with the quicker, sure-handed Mason. It's the same type of tandem the Pittsburgh Steelers had with Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward, although the Ravens predict Moore will eventually become better than Burress.

With Mark Clayton a no-show until now, Moore has only strengthened his grip on the starting spot, a situation which hasn't diminished his appetite.

"I still got to look at myself at keeping that spot," Moore said. "If they didn't label me that, I have to earn it. Either way, I have to keep up the hard work whether Mark was here or not."

Survival has been instilled in Moore's mind-set ever since he was the 199th pick of the 2004 draft (the same spot where Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was selected in 2000).

At training camp a year ago, the newcomer from Northern Arizona was looked upon as a novelty, someone who looked more like a basketball player and towered over every other receiver. After barely making the final cutdown before the regular season, Moore became a fixture in the starting lineup in December with his leaping touchdown catches.

Moore finished with 24 receptions and four touchdowns as a rookie, which could serve as a springboard to a breakout season.

"He's been outstanding in camp," coach Brian Billick said. "He's heavier, faster, stronger and more confident all across the board. He carries himself in a totally different way than he did one year ago."

Much of the transformation occurred in the Ravens' weight room.

Instead of spending the offseason at home in California, Moore attended 85 percent of the team's voluntary workouts. He put on 11 pounds in the first three months, eight of which was muscle.

When he came to the Ravens, he could only leg press around 300 pounds. Now, he can lift more than 500 pounds.

The increased strength should help Moore escape a cornerback's jam at the line of scrimmage as well as break tackles after the catch. He had only two catches of more than 20 yards last season.

The balancing act for Moore is to gain weight yet not lose any speed.

"It's not a lifting competition," receivers coach David Shaw said. "We play a game of speed and explosion and smooth athletes."

To make sure he maintained his quickness, Moore ran routes and paid close attention to how fast he came out of his breaks.

"I don't think I lost anything that I needed," Moore said. "I feel more powerful."

That added power should boost the weakest part of Moore's game: going over the middle.

There were times last season when he appeared to short-arm passes on crossing patterns, flinching at the possibility of heavy contact. Rather than concentrating on the ball, it seemed as if he was concentrating on the potential head-on collision.

"I focused on putting on the weight so I could handle the hits coming across the middle," Moore said. "I don't know how you can mentally psyche yourself up for that. If someone knows that, they need to let me know. You just have to know if you hold on to the ball, the hits are not going to hurt as much."

The Ravens have talked to Moore about developing into a "complete" receiver and not one who specializes in jump balls or in the red zone.

Their faith in Moore was evident when they kept him in the starting lineup despite drafting Clayton in the first round. It will be up to Moore to keep that job - showing that same hunger from the offseason - once Clayton returns.

"Clayton's got a lot to prove but I still got a lot to prove, too," Moore said. "That's the mentality you've got to take."

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