After being selected out of Western Michigan in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Skyy Moore had a rookie season that included a few moments he’d love to have back.
Pressed into service as a punt returner — a role for which he had almost no previous experience — Moore muffed (and lost) three punts. The most costly was in the Chiefs’ 20-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3. In that game, Moore fumbled away his team’s first chance to possess the ball at his own 4-yard line — and when the Colts scored, it ended up being one of the significant factors in that bitter loss.
Years from now, few will remember a pivotal moment in one of just three losses during Kansas City’s championship season. It’s a lot more likely that people will recall what happened at the end of the AFC Championship against the Cincinnati Bengals. With the score tied at 20 — and with just 39 seconds left in the game — Moore turned in his longest punt return of the season: a 29-yarder that set the stage for the Harrison Butker field goal that sent the Chiefs to Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But after Monday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Moore acknowledged that the punt return against the Bengals sparked his confidence coming into the 2023 season — and revealed that even though special teams coordinator Dave Toub has said the team intends to try other players as punt returners this season, he’ll still be in that mix.
“I’m not going to stop,” Moore told reporters. “I really haven’t had a deep conversation with [Toub] about that. But he definitely has me [going] back there [and] catching them every practice. So I’ll still be back there for sure — like at least the practice room.”
Still, now that wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman have departed, it’s a lot more likely that Moore’s greatest 2023 contribution will be on offense — where he says he is “thirty times” more comfortable than he was as a rookie who is still learning Andy Reid’s playbook.
“[The game has] slowed down a little bit,” he revealed. “It’s kind of like I’m not worried about what route I run anymore. It’s about how I’m gonna get open — and what I’m going to do to the defensive back — versus [knowing] my job.”
Having that first season behind him has made all the difference for Moore.
“I feel like I’m down, I’m in there, and I’m just a pro,” he declared. “I’m not in college anymore. I’m not new to the NFL. So I know how things are going to turn out. I have game experience. So I feel like that experience just makes me more comfortable.”
Moore’s comfort level has even improved enough that a rookie like Rashee Rice is already leaning on him for advice.
“He got to a point where he’s asking me all the questions,” said Moore. “One of the times I said, ‘I don’t know, bro. You’ve got to ask the older guys.’ And he was like, ‘You’re one of the older guys!’
“It just put things in perspective for me — like I’ve got to jump into a different kind of role. I’m not the rookie anymore, so I’ve got to be able to answer those certain questions — which makes me study even harder.”
Moore doesn’t yet know the specific offensive role he will play in the coming season. (Given the circumstances, it might be that Kansas City’s coaches don’t know, either). But he’s comfortable not only with the playbook but also with his fellow wideouts — including new free agent Richie James.
“I love Richie,” said Moore. “Richie is my favorite receiver right now. I feel like we got a lot of great guys in the room. It’s super competitive — but at the same time, we’ve got a good bond. All the guys eat lunch together. We laugh [and] we joke. But we also work — and we know that it’s a competitive room.”
With the challenges facing the Chiefs’ wide receivers this season, it will need to be.