CHARLOTTE -- Being a Carolina Panther was Kenneth Moore's lifetime dream, the product of a childhood spent growing up in Charlotte and pulling for the home team. But actually donning the black jersey and running through Bank of America Stadium's north tunnel on gameday remained a dream deferred as the 2008 season concluded.
In effect, Moore's first NFL season was tantamount to a redshirt year in college, except that being on the 53-man roster meant that it counted as a year of service -- which isn't a negative in the pros, where career length is theoretically unlimited, though realistically affected by health, ability and other factors.
Moore chafed a bit at being among the eight scratches for every game after joining the Panthers; he's only human. But he knew the team's situation at wide receiver before he arrived, and with Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, Mark Jones and Dwayne Jarrett remaining healthy for the balance of the season, Moore could only wait for a chance that wouldn't arise.
"It's always a little frustrating when you want to be out there and you want to play. But I understood my role and I understood where the team saw me," Moore said. "It definitely was a thing where I needed to come in, learn the plays and do what I needed to do to learn the system, so when my opportunity did come, I was able to take advantage of it.
"Now it's a new year and a new beginning, so I've got to go out there and show them what I have and what I can bring to the team."
Moore didn't give himself much time to rest in the last two months following the 33-13 divisional-playoff loss to Arizona.
"I've been here the whole time. I took a week or two weeks off, but then I was back in the weight room, getting better, running, doing all the little things I needed to do.
"I didn't play last year, but fortunately I was on the (53-man) roster, so I was able to learn the plays and that sort of thing. But I'm eager to get on the field and be able to contribute to helping us win games. I was in that weight room from the jump, working out and getting my mind and body right."
Moore's body wasn't 100 percent for a stretch at the end of the regular season, as he battled a hamstring pull that kept him off the practice field for part of December -- which was the only aspect of his rookie season that prevented him from emerging out of the campaign well-rested.
"I'm pretty fresh but I went through a little bit with the hamstring. It was just getting back to 100 percent (in January)," he said. "My body's 100 percent now. I'm feeling good. I lost a little weight to get in the top shape I can be in."
For the next several weeks, working to that condition remains Moore's goal. By the time minicamp and organized team activities arrive, his focus will change back to his on-field quest for opportunities and playing time.
"I'm looking to do whatever I need to do to get on the field -- whether that's third receiver, slot receiver, punt returner, kickoff returner, any special teams," he said. "Whatever I have to do to get on the field and be a part of this team."