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Big Game For Kapron Lewis-Moore

Posted Sep 2, 2015

The Ravens defensive tackle has a chance to make the 53-man roster after a tough start to his career.

It wasn’t much more than a year ago when defensive tackle Kapron Lewis-Moore was seriously contemplating leaving football.

He had just suffered an Achilles tear in training camp, ending his 2014 season. His rookie 2013 season never got off the ground because of an ACL tear during his final college game.

“I was at such a low point in my life,” Lewis-Moore recalls.

Now, Lewis-Moore holds his hand over his head.

“I’m pretty happy now,” he says. “I’m feeling pretty great. I’m up high right now.”

Lewis-Moore has a chance to make the Ravens’ 53-man roster for the first time in his now three-year NFL career. He’s spent both of his first two seasons on injured reserve.

It’s not a guarantee. Lewis-Moore is competing with other veteran defensive ends, DeAngelo Tyson and Christo Bilukidi, as well as possibly some defensive tackles, for the last roster spots on the defensive line.

Thursday night’s preseason finale in Atlanta will be Lewis-Moore’s last chance to make an impression.

“This is a big game for him,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He played well last week, so it’s going to be fun to see how he does.”

But Lewis-Moore can’t think beyond his pure glee at just having a chance. Thursday will be just Lewis-Moore’s seventh NFL game. Despite being 25 years old and one of the more veteran players on the Ravens defensive line, he’s still relatively new to the field.

“This is the furthest I’ve been in training camp healthy, so I’m enjoying the moment,” Lewis-Moore said. “I’m going out there to have fun and try to play to the best of my ability. I’ve got one more preseason game to show what I can do and then the rest in their hands.”

The Ravens rolled the dice with Lewis-Moore to begin with when they selected him in the sixth round of the 2013 draft.

Lewis-Moore could have been an early-to-mid-round pick had he not torn his ACL in the national championship against Alabama that January. Harbaugh and General Manager Ozzie Newsome knew they were likely signing up for a redshirt season.

When Lewis-Moore returned to the field for the first time last season, he looked dominant while going up against the team’s rookies. Even once training camp began, Lewis-Moore was one of the early standouts. That was until he tore his Achilles heel on Aug. 10.

In one of the more depressing scenes on a Ravens practice field, Lewis-Moore was surrounded by players, both from the Ravens and 49ers during joint practices, and was carted off the field in tears.

“It’s a horrible feeling. I feel terrible for him,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said at the time.

Lewis-Moore thought the Ravens might cut him following the second injury. He stayed away from his phone for two days.

“There were a couple days when I really thought about whether I wanted to go through this again,” he said. “Obviously I came to my senses, but it’s just tough. It’s hard to stay injury free in this league. I just try to keep my faith in God.”

Lewis-Moore made the long, tenuous rehab to return this year. It’s been an uphill climb.

Even in late May, Lewis-Moore said he was still waiting for his explosion to return. Above all, he just wanted to stay on the field.

“I think he really had to shake off two years of not playing,” Harbaugh said. “He didn’t play football for two full years [while] rehabbing injuries. And the other part of it is just the balance, body control [and] having confidence that it was all going to hold up. He’s through all that now.”

In Saturday’s third preseason game against the Redskins, Lewis-Moore was the Ravens’ second-best defender, per Pro Football Focus. He got a rating of plus-2.5, only trailing defensive tackle Brandon Williams (plus-4.7). Lewis-Moore made four tackles and was particularly strong on run defense.

“He has done a great job, especially for a guy that has come back from so far,” Harbaugh said.

The Ravens have to cut the roster to 53 on Saturday. Lewis-Moore has plans to take his mind off the pressing matter of his NFL future.

“I’m going to watch Notre Dame beat Texas,” he said with a smile. “That’s what I’m going to do all day Saturday. I’m just going to sit back, watch football and hopefully hear some good news.”

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