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Moore grateful to be back with Lions following suspension

OTAs and the voluntary portion of the spring NFL schedule isn't always the favorite time of year for players, but the smile and exuberance coming from veteran safety C.J. Moore at last week's open practice was noticeable.

The game was taken away from Moore for all of the 2023 season after he was released and served a year-long gambling suspension. After being reinstated by the league and re-signing with the Lions earlier this month, Moore is happy to be back in Detroit playing football again and is looking to make the roster as a special teams ace and reserve safety.

"I shouldn't have been gambling in the first place," Moore said last week after Detroit's first open OTA practice of the spring. "I knew the rules, just like I said, just being immature, just gambling, losing control of being aware of exactly what I was doing. Just careless mistake."

Moore got married during his time away. He and his wife also welcomed their second child. He conducted his annual football camp and continued to train at a gym in New Jersey four times a week, and tried to stay as busy as possible.

"There was times where I mean, it was tough," Moore said. "I didn't know what (was going to happen to me). It was a lot of uncertainty, but all I could do was just try to put my best foot forward, be a good pro and just try to prepare to come back and I'm just so thankful to be back."

Moore said the Lions reached out to his agent about rejoining the team soon after he was reinstated and he was super thankful for that.

An undrafted free agent who originally signed with the Lions out of Ole Miss in 2019, Moore's been one of the best special teams players on the roster in his time in Detroit. He had eight special teams tackles in 2021 and ran for two first downs as a personal protector on fake punts in 2022.

"I'm obviously excited to have him back," Lions special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said of Moore last week. "I hated seeing him go, but anyways it's great to have him back. He's an energetic player, he's always got a positive attitude, he's an optimistic person and he is a very sudden player, too, so that helps. But yeah, we're definitely excited."

Moore said it was 'bittersweet' watching the Lions win 12 games (tied for franchise record) and reach the NFC championship game without him last year, but he's grateful to be back and hopeful to contribute to even more team success in 2024.

View photos from Day 4 of Detroit Lions OTA practice on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Allen Park, Mich.

"I had been with this team when we didn't win a lot of games, so being in that building and watching those guys win felt great and just feeling like I should have been there, that was the tough part," he said. "But I was super excited for the team, super excited for these guys making plays, so yeah, I would say a little bittersweet, but a lot more sweet."

Outside of being a terrific special teams player, Moore also gives the Lions some experienced depth at safety behind starters Kerby Joseph and Ifeatu Melifonwu.

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