An injury to Erik Coleman gave Falcons SS William Moore his first opportunity to start in Week Two, and he's established himself as one of the team's more promising young defensive players since then.
Moore has impressed the team with his rapid development after he missed all but two games of his rookie season. A second-round pick in 2009, Moore underwent knee surgery during the training camp before last season, and he made just two tackles before landing on injured reserve in late October '09 with a lingering hamstring injury.
In the four starts he made while Coleman was out recovering this season, Moore showed that he had the toughness and instincts to play closer to the line of scrimmage and help in run support and that he could be a playmaker in coverage, too. It was enough to convince the coaching staff that it needed him to be on the field, and Coleman didn't get his starting job back when he became healthy.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith recently said he's seen Moore, who has started the last nine games, improve each week.
"He's done a nice job in working on certain aspects of his game each and every week," Smith said. "He's like a sponge in terms of trying to become a better football player. He's taking the coaching very well, and physically I think he's got a chance to be a really good player. You're getting an opportunity now that he's got a few games underneath his belt to see what he's capable of doing. He's leading our team in interceptions and he's one of the hardest-hitting safeties that I've seen throughout this season."
Moore has 36 tackles, one forced fumble and four interceptions, the most recent of which helped seal Atlanta's win over St. Louis in the fourth quarter of a Week 11 game. Rams QB Sam Bradford attempted a shovel pass on 3rd-and-goal, and Moore stepped right into the passing lane for the pick.
Coleman, a seventh-year veteran, has been serving as the third safety, backing up Moore and FS Thomas DeCoud, and he also contributes on special teams. It's no surprise that he hasn't been happy about getting demoted, but he's accepted the role. The 28-year-old has one more year left on the contract he signed with Atlanta in '08.