It's been an eventful couple of weeks for Mike DeVito. Most recently, a week ago today, the Jets' veteran defensive tackle received what he called "the biggest honor I've gotten so far in my life."
That honor was being presented with the NYPD Columbia Association's Italian-American Achievement Award at the law enforcement officers' annual awards dinner.
"They told me a couple of months ago and I've been excited about it ever since," DeVito told newyorkjets.com Thursday. "It was just awesome to be recognized by those guys who go out there and risk their lives every day. Like I said to them, you've just got to turn on the news to get a glimpse of the world their dealing with. For them to recognize me is an honor I'll always remember."
A week before that came a development that some think would put DeVito's position as a starter on the Jets' D-line at risk — the selection with the 16th overall pick of the draft of DE Quinton Coples. And in the aftermath of that selection, DeVito was reported to have restructured his contract with the Jets.
But if you see any of this as a bad thing for DeVito's career as a Jet, don't come to the locker where No. 70 hangs his jersey.
"It's great to have Quinton on the team," he said. "Anytime you can add that caliber of player to the defense, it's exciting to get another guy in that can add to our versatility. I'm grateful he's here."
No Limits on This Unit
DeVito said there's not a lot he can pass on to Coples about making the leap from UNC to the NFL. And that's not just an old vet protecting his turf by withholding info from a young whippersnapper.
"There's nothing really you can tell him. He'll figure it out," DeVito said. "He's going to learn it and we're going to back him up and help him learn the playbook. He's got all the physical tools.
"I remember coming into the league, the hardest things to get used to were the size of the playbook and the speed of everything going on. So we'll help him be able to learn the playbook, slow things down in his mind. That's going to be on me and Bo [Sione Pouha] to make sure we get on him, because physically you don't have to teach him anything — he's a freak."
Adding Coples' freaky athleticism to DeVito's strength, experience and run-stopping ability and all the rest of the skills on the D-line makes one of the Jets' best units better still.
"You've got guys fresh, guys rolling in and out," DeVito said. "I remember two years ago, there were really three of us and it was just every snap. Guys were getting gassed. Now we've got all these guys that are so multiple and versatile up front. There's no limit to what we can do, what defenses we can run, the combination of players we can put out there. It makes us so much more of a threat."
Another factor in DeVito's optimism — and in fact another element that told him he wanted to continue wearing the green and white — is his work to date with new line coach Karl Dunbar.
"I was really excited to see Karl come in, just his background with the Vikings, all the stuff he brings to the table," he said. "He's familiar with multiple fronts, he's familiar with Rex's defenses, he's worked with All-Pro-caliber players. He's a guy that's going to help us take that next step."
Putting His Best Foot Forward
Some of those next steps DeVito and his group have already been practicing under Dunbar's supervision during Phase II of the offseason workouts now going on.
"He has a lot of great pass-rush stuff and I think that's something that we all on the defensive line want to work on," he said. "He has this long-arm technique that we've been working on out there that's so effective, just a different kind of technique that creates separation from the offensive lineman, kind of like a stiffarm. He's showed us on film how it works in the game. It's a great technique, jus tone of many things he's added."
The 6'3", 305-pounder also gives kudos to strength coach Bill Hughan and his staff for helping him condition his body for his sixth pro season.
"I feel much stronger. I dropped a couple of pounds and I'm trying to make sure I'm adding my stretching and a bunch of different things to take that next step," he said. "It's been working. I feel great."
There are clearly no discouraging words coming out of the DeVito camp.
"Wherever they want me to play, however much they want me to play, they know they're going to get everything I've got," he said. "I can't control when I'm out there, how long I'm out there. That's not up to me. All I can do is make sure I put the best product on the field. The great thing about Rex, Karl, Mike T and these guys is they're going to play the best players. We have a roomful of great players, so you can't go wrong with the combination of guys we've got."
And DeVito remains a key member of the combination, someone who's far from done achieving as a Jet.