William Moore knows the leadership of the Falcons secondary will start with him this year. The returning veteran with the most experience, Moore is surrounded by rookies and new faces. His running mate at safety is Dwight Lowery, a free-agent signing and his two cornerbacks will be second-year players. There's been a makeover, but he's been a mainstay on the Falcons defense since he stepped into the starting lineup in 2010 and that won't change this year.
With all the youth and new faces, Moore knows they will need to be brought together if it's going to work.
"I'm speaking from a safety position and the young group we've got back there, it's going to come down to chemistry," Moore said last week about what it will take for the secondary to come together.
This year, Moore plans to continue to be the leader he's been on the defensive side, but with more experience to back it up. The safety points to last season and the talk Tony Gonzalez gave the team before the season ended. That message of playing every snap like it's your last resonated with Moore and he's returned in the offseason, determined to be a more vocal player this year, striving to get the best out of his teammates.
"I look at myself as one of those guys that puts it on the field, I don't like to talk about it in the locker room," Moore said. "I want to be more vocal and have fun with it. What Tony said when he left us, his last words, a guy that's been around for over a decade, it's a blessing to be out here. I'll never forget that. I don't care if I'm in my 10th season; I'm still going to remember that because it meant a lot."
Moore has always been a passionate and fiery player, with the competitive attitude to match his big hits on the field. A more vocal version of that player isn't a bad thing. So far during the OTAs this year, Moore is taking on the role of Mufasa, providing guidance and an example to the young and hungry lions he's surrounded by.
"Every play I'm out there, I'm trying to tell the younger guys to not take any play for granted and play hard," he said.
For the second time in his career, Moore played in all 16 games last season and said playing another full season is his goal this year. Back in a Mike Nolan defense that embraces creativity, Moore said things aren't a lot different outside of terminology changes and you can expect more moving around and with some better play and wins, a lot more fun as well.
"It's Nolan's defense, we (move around)," Moore said. "He lets guys relax a little bit. Of course, we've got new guys, but at the same time, those guys hit the ground and see that Nolan lets us do us and play to our strengths. It's going to be fun."