Bills LB Moats making most of opportunity
Arthur Moats already has made a name for himself. Now he wants to parlay that into a career.
Buffalo's rookie sixth-round pick out of James Madison may be best known for the blindside hit on the Vikings' Brett Favre that ended his NFL-record starts streak at 297 games. But Moats is determined to be more than just a one-hit wonder.
''After the Brett Favre hit I've been trying to make plays because I didn't want to be known for just that,'' Moats said. ''I want to be an elite player in this league, and I feel like you've got to start somewhere. It was a great starting point, but I wanted to get better every week and continue to make plays.''
Moats has spent most of this season making plays on special teams, but he's also steadily moved up the depth chart because of a rash of injuries. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Virginia native finally got his defensive opportunity earlier this month against the Vikings when veteran outside linebacker Reggie Torbor was placed on injured reserve.
His 2 1/2 sacks this season have come in his past three games, including a one-sack, six-tackle performance Sunday in Buffalo's win over Miami that made him a candidate for the NFL's rookie of the week honors. Moats had a half sack taken away from him after the league announced a scoring change Wednesday after reviewing the Miami game.
''The main thing they want me to do is get pressure on the quarterback,'' Moats said.
Next up is Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at home Sunday.
Moats had 11 sacks as a defensive end in his senior year at James Madison, but he was switched to inside linebacker when he joined the Bills during their offseason practices because he seemed undersized to play on the line. But after Torbor, Antonio Coleman, and Keith Ellison all went down with injuries, Moats was forced to move to the perimeter.
So far, it's been a productive change.
''In the last four or five weeks, he might have made as much progress as anybody on our football team,'' coach Chan Gailey said. ''He's a natural pass rusher. That's what he did in college. So, we had to try to fit him where he could produce the best, and that was why we ended up moving him to outside.''
Among rookies this season, Moats is just two sacks behind Miami's Koa Misi.
''You gotta love a kid like that,'' Bills veteran outside linebacker Chris Kelsay said. ''A sixth-round pick comes in and brings his lunch pail and hard hat to work every day. It's about guys that make the most of their opportunity, and Moats has done his work. I'm proud of him.''
Despite leading the team with 24 preseason tackles, Moats was a long shot to make a difference on a Buffalo team that didn't have many expectations. But with one eye-popping hit on Favre followed by impressive showings against Cleveland and the Dolphins, he's become a player the rebuilding Bills are hoping they can count on in the future.
''I'm excited about the way I've been playing these last couple of weeks,'' Moats said. ''I'm just trying to finish out strong so it has some carry-over to next year.''