Moss out to prove he’s no first-round flop


ENGLEWOOD, Colo.(AP)—While Tebowmaniacs line the Denver Broncos’ practice fields hoping to catch a glimpse of quarterback Tim Tebow’s(notes) transformation, they’re missing the metamorphosis of another former Florida Gator right before their eyes.

A year ago, pass-rusher Jarvis Moss(notes) walked out of training camp so bedeviled by personal problems that he wondered whether he should walk away from football altogether.

He returned three days later but had another forgettable season, recording no sacks, no tackles and one pass break-up while playing in just seven games.

Moss said he needed the respite last summer to clear his head and help him rediscover his passion.

“There was a lot of stuff on my plate last year. A lot of stuff that wasn’t just football. A lot of stuff built up on me,” he said. “I had to sit down, take a deep look at myself and realize this is what I am - I’m a football player. This is what I love to do. … It’s serious now.”

Now, Moss looks nothing like that undersized, overwhelmed player who nearly walked away from football forever. He’s added muscle and appears both stronger and more focused at practice. So winded was he after one workout this week that he did interviews with his hands on his knees, sweat streaming off his face.

“No, I don’t need to vomit,” he said, straightening up.

His teammates and his coaches are raving about this new Jarvis Moss.

“He’s looking good,” NFL sacks king Elvis Dumervil(notes) said Tuesday. “He’s working. He’s making fewer mistakes and his energy level is high. He seems more focused.”

Moss said he’s finally figured things out in his fourth season and worked relentlessly over the spring and summer to put it all on display.

“I just put in the time. It’s important to me now,” Moss said. “I thought I’d take the time in the offseason and get right. I picture myself doing big things.”

So does safety Brian Dawkins(notes).

“You can see it in his mindset,” Dawkins said. “Obviously, I haven’t been with Jarvis in other years, what everybody’s talking about. All I see is Jarvis today. What I see of Jarvis today is a guy who is dialed in, dedicated. He’s pushing himself and asking questions left and right in the meeting room to make sure he’s where he needs to be.”

Dawkins’ first impression of Moss a year ago was watching him take a three-day furlough to mull retirement, which could have resulted in him having to return $3.6 million of his signing bonus to the Broncos.

After missing five practices, Moss returned to camp only to find himself even further down the depth chart at outside linebacker in the team’s new 3-4 scheme with the arrival of first-round draft pick Robert Ayers(notes).

Moss has just 3 1/2 sacks in his career and has struggled to fit into the NFL ever since former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan moved up to select him with the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft.

After last season, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels met with Moss and encouraged him to gain both weight and perspective, and it appears he’s done both.

He added seven pounds of muscle and now packs 257 pounds on his sleek 6-foot-7 frame, and his rededication is evident in his physique and his fitness.

“He had a great offseason, and we talked to Jarvis about that being important for him,” McDaniels said. “I think he’s stronger. He’s maintained his weight, which has been an up-and-down thing and has kind of fluctuated in the past. He’s got such a lean body, but he’s very powerful.”

And his head is no longer swimming with Xs and Os and bogged down by personal problems.

“He knows the system better,” McDaniels said. “It’s not his first year in this system playing as an outside linebacker and he’s doing a lot of the little things right that take some time to learn,” McDaniels said. “So, we’re excited about what we’ve got with Jarvis this year.”

Moss wants more than anything not to be known as a first-round flop.

“I want to go ahead and start a legacy for myself,” he said, “just live up to what people expect me to be.”

Moss, who came into the league as a 4-3 defensive end, feels he’s found a home at outside linebacker in the 3-4:

“I love it. I realize this is what I should have been doing for a long time,” he said.

And something he has hopes to be doing for a lot longer, too.

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Updated Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010