Up until this season, it had been awhile since Dezman Moses played in many meaningful football games.
A transfer from the University of Iowa after his sophomore year, the Green Bay Packers’ rookie outside linebacker starred as an undersized 4-3 defensive end for his final two collegiate seasons at Tulane where he finished as fifth all-time in career sacks (15½).
For all his efforts, however, the Green Wave rarely won during Moses’ time in New Orleans. Tulane went 6-19 during those two seasons and included a 10-game losing streak Moses' seniro year – a stretch that triggered head coach Bob Toledo’s resignation.
In Green Bay, it’s been a different story. After converting to outside linebacker in Dom Capers’ 3-4, the 6-foot-2, 249-pound Moses played in all 16 games and made six starts for a Packers’ team making its fourth consecutive playoff appearance despite his status as an undrafted rookie.
Of the four undrafted rookies to make the Packers’ original 53-man roster coming out of training camp, both Moses and right tackle Don Barclay have played extensively this season.
“This is unbelievable. It’s a blessing for me,” said Moses, who finished the season with 27 tackles and four sacks. “I haven’t had a chance to be in too many important games in my experience in college. I still learned a lot throughout it. My love for the game grew. Not being able to win, you play for something a little more than just wins and losses.
“Now, having that to play for also, it’s unbelievable. Important games and you guys asking me questions, it’s all part of it and I enjoy it.”
While Moses continues to line up across from four-time Pro Bowler Clay Matthews in the starting unit, Barclay’s improbable run at one of the NFL’s premium positions has been a catalyst for the Packers’ evolving offensive structure.
Unlike Moses, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Barclay had his share of successes during a three-year stint as West Virginia’s starting left tackle. He helped anchor one of college football’s most potent offensive attacks a season ago.
Since Bryan Bulaga went down with a season-ending hip injury in Week 9, Barclay has been a pleasant surprise over the second half of the season considering the potential drop-off at tackle going from a former first-round pick like Bulaga to an undrafted rookie.
“He’s very mature for his age and for his growth development,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. “He’s a guy that can move onto the next play if he gives up a bad play, he forgets it rather quickly. I’m sure that Josh (Sitton) in the huddle is helping him with that, saying ‘hey, let it go.’ He’s just a very tough kid. Tough-minded, physically tough kid that wants everything for his team first, and for himself second and he’s a pleasure to coach.”