SEATTLE –- Raiders linebacker Sio Moore started 22 games in his first two NFL seasons, yet finds himself buried on the depth chart.
He’s largely out of the mix at outside linebacker, generally relegated to special teams duty since regaining health halfway through this preseason. He didn’t play linebacker at all on Sunday against Arizona. In Thursday’s exhibition finale at Seattle, he played just nine snaps.
Moore was only involved in punt coverage until midway through the fourth quarter. He played weakside linebacker for nine snaps, a paltry sum for an incumbent starter frequently counted among organizational foundation pieces. That was then. Under new head coach Jack Del Rio, that may not be the case.
Malcolm Smith seems set as a starter over Moore, who also played behind rookies Neiron Ball and Gary Wilkins in a 31-21 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
Moore has fallen far pretty fast, an unexpected occurrence that suggests he may not be in Del Rio’s good graces. Del Rio said last week that Moore was competing “to be a role player” after missing so much time with injury at the start of training camp.
That was before he was glued to the bench during preseason games. After Moore’s only defensive cameo this preseason, Del Rio was asked why the third-year pro saw such little action.
His answer was stern, and did not mince words.
“Guys pretty much get what they earn,” Del Rio said. “In his case, he missed an awful lot of time. He fell behind. I let coaches play (whom) they wanted to play. We got him in. We got him a little time. That’s how it went. That’s how we see it.”
The Raiders must trim their 75-man roster to 53 by Saturday afternoon and, as crazy as it sounds, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that Moore could be a surprise casualty. It seems unlikely, but it can’t be categorically ruled out given his level of participation over the last few weeks.
If he isn’t involved in Del Rio’s plans, could Moore be trade bait now or down the line? Or will he work his way back up the depth chart and contribute heavily to this defense during the regular season? At this point, anything seems possible regarding the talented linebacker.
Moore was not in the locker room when it was open to the press, but he sent out this tweet shortly after the game ended.
Never like the taste of losing... Can't wait to see what Week 1 looks like tho! #RaiderNation— Sio Moore (@MrOakTown55) September 4, 2015