DJ Moore shines in first start

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CHARLOTTE -- It's been said countless times that DJ Moore isn't a big talker. But, oftentimes, it's that trait that creates the best listeners.

After facing some turbulence in the first half of his rookie year, Moore has demonstrated that he's embracing, not erasing, the criticism and has used it to improve his game.

After fumbling twice in a loss to Washington in Week 6, Moore became a lightning rod for questions surrounding his role within coordinator Norv Turner's offense. Despite the mistakes, Turner and head coach Ron Rivera made it clear they didn't want to stray away from Moore.

In Sunday's win against Baltimore, Moore made good on their faith. Starting in place of the injured Torrey Smith, Moore electrified in his first career start with 129 all-purpose yards and several jaw-dropping plays. It was a special afternoon for the 24th overall pick, and a testament to the work he puts in between games.

"All week I just prepared like I was going to be a starter. It was just something that I set in my mind," Moore said. "I just attacked the game plan the best I could and just knew what I had to do."

Some players would shrink after facing adversity, but Moore has impressed with his maturity. Running back Christian McCaffrey is one of several to notice Moore's poise. "He didn't blink at all. He's a very mature player obviously, so we got a lot of young guys that are old-minded and that's a good thing," McCaffrey said.

Moore's play further supported Rivera's decision to not punish Moore as he works through his growing pains. Against Washington, Rivera said Moore was "victimized" by crafty cornerback Josh Norman, but the only way that he would get better is by simply continuing to play. He believes Moore's ball security against Baltimore's top-ranked defense speaks volumes.

"I have to admit, I held my breath a couple of times today watching him fight for those extra yards," Rivera said. "But then I see him bring it in, cradle it, so he has gotten the message and has done a heck of a job."

Moore also caught the eye of quarterback Cam Newton, who found Moore five times for 90 yards. The two couldn't be more different in terms of handling a hot mic, but Newton feels that how Moore handles the attention his breakout game created will impact him in the near future.

"For him to feel comfortable, knowing where he's from come from, it's different," Newton said. "And making sure that the biggest distractions may not be the ones when you face defeat, but also the ones when you face success.

"Bouncing back from a game like this, seeing how he moves forward, and we're hoping for good things moving forward."

Moore's development plays into a bigger storyline for Carolina's offense. Week 8 provided a glimpse of what Moore brings to the table, and as he hits his stride, expanding his role alongside second-year guys in McCaffrey and wideout Curtis Samuel will give Turner an arsenal of players than can make big plays from anywhere on the field.

Both Moore and Samuel possess a tenacious energy that could mold Carolina's attack on the outside, and the two are often reminded of that. "They just want us to just go out there and burn it out on the other team," Moore said.

Samuel's thoughts reiterate that message. "It's dangerous for a defense. They cant scheme us up as well," he said. "We both played in big games before, and this stage is no different to me or him. We're just going to out there and ball every night."

As the reps increase, so will the confidence of the Panthers' young talents. For Moore, Week 8 could be that pivotal moment.

"Everybody tells me that (I'm) going to have ups and downs throughout the year," Moore said. "But I'm trying to stay on the up side 'cause I don't really want to have any more downs."

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