Up until the moment that Shawne Merriman was released in mid-August, fourth-year defensive end Kyle Moore was considered a dark horse candidate, at best, to crack the final roster of the Buffalo Bills. After he did just that, he spent the first several weeks of the regular season on the inactive list as the team chose to play just three defensive ends on game days.
Pressed into action over the last two weeks thanks to injuries first to Spencer Johnson and then to end Mark Anderson, Moore has finally gotten his opportunity to play - and has really impressed as a pass rusher. One had to look hard to see that production in a blowout loss to San Francisco, but it was on display in spades in last Sunday's win over Arizona.
Keeping in mind that Arizona's offensive line could make Matt Warren look like a competent pass rusher, it's nonetheless impressive that Moore - and not Mario Williams, who also played very well last week - was the team's best pass rushing end in the desert. Working for a large part of the day against beleaguered left tackle D'Anthony Batiste, Moore was dominant, routinely forcing quarterbacks to step up into the pocket and into the path of whatever teammate also happened to beat his blocker on that given play. Moore was doing similarly good things against a much better 49ers line the week prior, but given the way Buffalo was getting gouged by the running game, it was not as blatantly obvious.
That angle is the concern for Moore at this point: defending the run. He's not good at it. If we had to guess, that had something to do with the team's bringing back Merriman earlier this week; Merriman is no longer a competent pass rusher, but he remains assignment sound against the run. In Moore and Merriman, the Bills have two one-dimensional players, but they can still be used situationally - and two is better than one.
The idea of Moore being able to provide a pass rush as a situationally player, however, is one that could become critically important for the Bills as the season progresses. Williams, who is consistently playing 85 to 90 percent of snaps, can't be relied on to provide that edge rush every snap. Anderson can help there, but not while he's injured. Until Anderson returns, Moore is arguably the most important reserve on the team. When the group is healthier, as the old adage goes, you can never have enough good pass rushers.