There was a day when journeyman defensive end Damontre Moore was a potential top-10 NFL draft choice.
But with the Dallas Cowboys being his fifth team in five NFL seasons, the only thing left from those days is the frame of a former Texas A&M standout who is looking to jump-start a once-promising career.
“I just asked myself, what do I really want from this game,” he said. “I really love the game, but if you really love it, why aren’t you doing everything to the best of your ability.”
And so goes this most recent journey for the former Rowlett High School standout, a return trip home to play for his favorite childhood team.
“I think he has matured over the course of his career,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I think he recognizes the opportunity that he has here and is embracing it.”
The Cowboys report to training camp July 22 in Oxnard, Calif. Their first practice is July 24.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Moore, who played linebacker at A&M, signed with the Cowboys in March. It is his second look with the Cowboys. The Cowboys brought him in last August for a workout, but did not sign him.
“It was part of the evaluation of him and where our team was at that particular time. We felt like the best thing to do was not to make a move then,” Garrett said. “We were interested in him. We evaluated him over the course of this year. He did a good job. We brought him in and have given him an opportunity.”
Moore was brought in mostly as depth at defensive end, but the pass rush unit seems to be getting younger and more inexperienced by the month.
Defensive end David Irving has been suspended for the first four games. Randy Gregory has been suspended for the season.
That brings more visibility and potential reps for Moore, although the significance of his dubious production over the past few seasons isn’t lost on him.
“I was doing certain things right, but other aspects, I was asking myself why I didn’t learn these parts of the game,” he said. “There’s more than one area for me to know in this game and you need to be versed in every aspect if you want to be a guy that’s playing for 15 seasons.”
During organized team activities, Moore recalled conversations with players such as Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Mario Williams, Michael Bennett and Cameron Wake while trying to get a handle on his latest opportunity.
“I always tend to hang out with the older guys because there’s a reason why they’re still here,” Moore said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be around guys like that and you realize they’re here because they are students of the game.”
Moore was drafted in the third round by the New York Giants in 2013 and played sparingly in his three seasons before an altercation with a teammate in the locker room led to a mid-season release in December 2015.
He was claimed by Miami off waivers and subsequently released again just five months later.
The Oakland Raiders signed Moore in May of 2016, only to release him early in training camp last fall before he ended up with Seattle in November.
A foot injury sent him to the injured reserve list and Moore said the wake-up call was right in front of him.
“I just realized my body was breaking down and not bouncing back like it was in years past,” he said. “I wanted to get better at understanding the game, but I also started listening to my body more, doing some yoga and getting the right nutrition.”
For Moore, going through OTAs with the Cowboys was about stacking good days on top of each other.
Moore has 77 career tackles and 10 sacks with three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
He also is getting a look on special teams.
“He’s done a nice job for us,” Garrett said. “He’s come in here and worked hard. He certainly has ability, quickness, explosiveness. He’s a good rusher and shows up on special teams. He’s playing the game the right way.”
So what are Moore’s chances of making the Cowboys roster?
Moore said it comes down to being mentally sharper.
“Obviously, I’m accustomed to change,” he said. “I’ve been able to pick it up and there hasn’t been too much of a learning curve.
“You get around great guys like Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence, we’re kind of helping each other because in the film room, you’re trying to make your weakest link stronger and that helps everybody.”
Dallas Cowboys key dates
July 24: Dallas Cowboys first training camp practice, Oxnard, Calif.
Aug. 3: Hall of Fame Game: Cowboys vs. Arizona, Canton, Ohio
Aug. 5: Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Canton, Ohio
Aug. 12: Cowboys preseason game at Los Angeles Rams, 8 p.m.
Aug. 18: Cowboys break camp in Oxnard, Calif.
Aug. 19: Cowboys preseason game vs. Indianapolis, 6 p.m.
Aug. 26: Cowboys preseason game vs. Oakland, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31: Cowboys preseason game at Houston, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10: Cowboys regular-season opener vs. New York Giants, 7:30 p.m.