By Danny Picard
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.