The Falcons activated strong safety William Moore Friday afternoon. Moore, who has been on the injured reserve list with a designation to return after suffering a shoulder injury in week four of the 2014 season, will presumably return to the field this Sunday against the Cardinals. I asked Moore what it was like to be sidelined as the team has struggled, and he said it has been frustrating to not be out there on the field with his teammates.
"Of course, it's frustrating because I want to contribute, and that's what I'm here for," Moore said, "and you see things differently from the sideline, and I've seen a few games that we should have won and a few games that we should have blown teams out. But I'm on the sideline -- I can't say too much. But for the most part, I can only worry about when I get out there."
For what it's worth, Moore doesn't see himself as a magic fix for a defense that seems to incrementally improve from week to week, but still has struggled in certain areas. What he can do, however, is set the tone for that unit. "I can only contribute," Moore said. "One man is not going to change the whole team, but what I am going to try to bring is some kind of energy. The defense has been playing lights out where they're getting better every week. We've still got room for improvement, and I feel like I can just come on in and try to bring some energy with me, and we can get over that hump."
Moore has been impressed with the play of Atlanta's young safeties, Kemal Ishmael and Dezmen Southward. "Number one, because I know what kind of athletes we have back there, it's not surprising to me," Moore said. In terms of the leadership he has offered to Ishmael and Southward, Moore said, "I've been telling those guys, just be confident in going out there. You're going to make mistakes, but make them full speed, and that's what they did. Those guys have been playing--I feel like we've been playing as one back there at the safeties. If we make a mistake, we make a mistake, but one thing we do is--they play hard. Those guys play hard, and every time they come to the sideline, no matter what happened, good or bad, I told them to clear it and go out and just play the next snap, and that's exactly what they've been doing. They've been getting better every week, and the sky's the limit for those guys."
William Moore has gotten familiar with Drew Stanton and the Cardinals' offense in the film room this week. "I don't want to sit here and compare him to Carson, but you've got to look at what he's doing, so it's a whole new offense now," Moore said. "That's the way I look at it."
Larry Fitzgerald's status is uncertain for this week, and Mike Smith confirmed after practice that the team has prepared for the Cardinals as if Fitzgerald will play, but Moore acknowledged that the Cardinals would be a different offense without one of Stanton's main targets, but that Stanton still has the skills to put the Cardinals in a position to win. "That takes something away from him if [Fitzgerald's] not playing, but Stanton's been doing an awesome job, from watching film this week."
Moore said that the team will have to try to take advantage of any mistakes Stanton makes. "He has a strong arm, I'll tell you that, and he's confident with the decisions he makes," Moore said, "but at the same time, he's started his first two games this season or whatnot, so he has some experience as far as with them, but as any other quarterback, he's due to make mistakes, and we'll take advantage of those mistakes."
As far as that whole 1-0 thing, players have very much bought into it. Moore thinks that perspective is very important. "It's huge, man, because that's what it's about. You have to be--you have to have that mindset," Moore said. "No matter what happens the game before, you move forward, and that's what Coach Smith is trying to get through to us. No matter what happens, we move forward."
Moore is happy that the team is in first place in the division, and he'd like to see the attitude on the field reflecting that. "As I told the team, we're in this position for a reason, and not only are we number one, we need to start acting like we're number one around here," Moore said. "I told them no matter how you get to number one, you're number one. No matter what the record says, you're in a position to make something out of this year. It's not gone. So let's take advantage of it, and let's have the swagger and confidence that a number one team has."
As Dwight Lowery was leaving the locker room wearing his 1-0 shirt, I asked him about that mentality. "It should be the focus regardless of what the situation is. It's really all you can control," Lowery said. "It's just cool to let you know, not that everything's going to be okay, but there's still an opportunity. And it's another opportunity to get better, and 1-0 is kind of something that you can use to look forward to the game."
Lowery has been impressed with Drew Stanton after watching film this week, and he said that it will be important for the Falcons to adjust to what Stanton and the Cardinals throw at them during Sunday's game. "[Stanton] in particular, I think that they do a couple things different than what they did when Palmer was in there. He's got a little more ability. I think he throws a good deep ball. I think he throws a good, accurate deep ball," Lowery said. "I also respect the quarterback, obviously, that they definitely do some things that present problems for defenses and make you adjust to what they do. So they present a lot of problems, a lot of challenges, so we're going to have to be ready to execute our game plan and then be ready to adjust during the game."