Moore's been nothing less than stellar for Pats

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Moore's been nothing less than stellar for Pats

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Having to play in the UFL is a humbling experience. Eric Moore knows that.

After all, the goal is to play in the NFL and, while you're there, make an impact.

After the Patriots' 38-7 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Moore wouldn't say he's made an impact in the month that he's been in New England.

But whether he wants to believe -- or admit -- it or not, Moore has taken great strides since signing with the Patriots in early December. The defensive lineman made three tackles on Sunday -- his fourth game with the team -- and forced a second-quarter fumble that led to a Patriots field goal and a 17-0 lead. That gives Moore 14 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two sacks in four games.

Not bad for the 29-year-old who began the season in the Carolina Panthers training camp, and then found himself helping lead the Florida Tuskers to the UFL Championship Game.

"Right now, I just have to thank God for the opportunity, and thank God for putting me here, and making the best of it," said Moore after Sunday's win over the Dolphins.

"Every guy's looking for a shot," he said. "And once you get that shot, you just have to take advantage of it."

After spending four seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, and St. Louis Rams, Moore found himself battling for another shot. The Patriots gave it to him in early December, and it's paid off for the organization.

Moore's hard work and willingness to keep battling, even after having to settle for a UFL contract earlier this season, is also paying off.

"He's come in and he's done what he had to do," said linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "He's done his job, and we're happy to have him. So whatever he's doing, he's got to continue to do. I'm excited to have Eric here . . . I know him from the past. He's a good player, so we're happy to have him."

Ninkovich's locker is right next to Moore's. The two know each other from playing together in New Orleans in 2006.

And they shared a special moment in Sunday's win, as Moore rushed into the backfield and forced the football out of Dolphins running back Ricky Williams' hands. Ninkovich jumped on the ball at his own 41-yard line, and it led to a New England field goal.

If the Patriots are prepared to make a serious run, they'll need Moore to continue to have the relentless presence he's had in the backfield as of late.

His teammates appreciate the work he's done to get where he is today.

"He's been a great player for us, on and off the field," said linebacker Jerod Mayo. "He's always in the film room trying to learn. We kind of threw him in there early, and he's getting better each and every week."

"Never give up, and if you've got a dream, continue to fight for it," said Ninkovich. "That's a lesson for everybody to see that, you know, he wanted to continue to play in the NFL, and he had to go to the UFL to get back to the NFL. So it talks a lot of his character and his drive.

"Eric's a great guy to have on your team because you know he's going to fight."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

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Brissett sees room for improvement but feels he's 'moving in the right direction'

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the mechanics of his throwing motion that he was concerned about. For Jacoby Brissett, it was the way in which he was seeing the Texans defense, the length of time it took to get a feel for the game, and how his night ended that bothered him. 

"I felt like I was getting my rhythm," Brissett said after the Patriots lost their exhibition with the Texans on Saturday, 23-20. "But you can't really remember all that stuff when the last play happens like that. It's the last one."

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Though the outcome of the game meant nothing, Brissett and his teammates were looking for a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left when Brissett had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. 

Brissett's night finished up with him going 5-for-10 for 36 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured on seven of his 15 drop-backs. 

The reserves playing for the Texans in the fourth quarter made life difficult for Brissett and his teammates as their first two drives resulted in punts. Brissett was hit twice on those drives, and his first third-down attempt failed when Houston sniffed out a screen. The Patriots had what looked like a third-and-21 conversion on their next sequence, but Devin Lucien bobbled a catch deep over the middle of the field that fell incomplete. 

Brissett seemed to make a couple of relatively difficult throws during his time on the field -- he nearly had a game-winning touchdown pass completed to Cody Hollister on a fade to the back corner of Houston's end zone, but Hollister got just one foot in-bounds -- yet he wished he could have done more to spark the Patriots offense quickly.

"I think I'm throwing the ball good," he said. "I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more so just my eyes and the timing of everything. I don't think it's throwing -- actually throwing. I think it's the mechanics of playing the game."

There was some good to be taken from Brissett's brief outing. After taking over possession with less than two minutes left, he helped the Patriots get deep into Texans territory with completions to Lucien, Sam Cotton and a third-down strike to DJ Foster. He also avoided a near sack, getting out of bounds to stop the clock, and he wisely spiked the football into the turf when he realized Houston had figured out another screen was coming.

Brissett looked back on where the third-team offense was at the start of camp -- with players like receivers Tony Washington and KJ Maye having just been added to the roster -- and pointed out that he felt they were significantly ahead of where they were then.

"I think we've gotten a lot better," Brissett said. "Just this two-minute drive is a good example. Last week we didn't make it past, what, the 40-yard line [against Jacksonville]? This week we're in the red zone with a chance to win the game. I think a lot of our young guys are stepping up and making plays and we're getting a little continuity together."

As for Brissett himself? The 2016 third-round pick has been the subject of some media speculation as to whether or not his spot on the 53-man roster is safe. After seeing some inconsistency in his play during camp practices and last week's game against the Jaguars, there were those who wondered if he was progressing at a rate that would help him survive this year's cutdown date. 

Asked to give a self-evaluation after the Texans game, Brissett said, "I definitely want to do more and play better, but there are good things getting done, good learning experiences. Moving in the right direction . . . 

"I feel like I'm still getting better. I think I'm doing good things. I mean, this league is hard. You just continue to work on things and continue to get better. Yeah, [tonight] the end result is a loss, but there were some good things we did out there. Some things it's good to get on film and learn from. It's a learning experience. That's what this is right now."

Whether the coaching staff sees the improvement Brissett described is unclear. 

"We've all got a long way to go," Belichick said following Saturday's game when asked about Brissett's progress. "I don't think anybody's where we need to be. Any player. Any coach. Any anybody . . . Just grinding it out. It's going to take a while."

Brissett insisted that coaches have been just as tight-lipped behind the scenes when it comes to how they've seen him grow summer. 

"I don't know what they think," Brissett said with a smile. "They don't tell me . . . I'm putting my best foot forward. It's up to them if they think I've been getting better or not."