What a difference a week makes.
Last Saturday, Mike DeVito had a few free hours in the afternoon. The rookie defensive end, born in New York and raised in Massachusetts, had just completed his first NFL training camp and preseason.
"My cousin came up and we went to the beach, went to the mall and just hung out," he said.
But DeVito was slightly distracted. The Jets were scheduled to announce their final cuts and he sat squarely on the bubble. He was with his cellphone throughout the day and he repeatedly checked to see if he had any incoming calls.
"Around 5, 6 o'clock, I was like 'I'm probably all right now,' " he said of his status. "I don't think anybody else is calling me now."
That thought became fact when head coach Eric Mangini got on a 5 p.m. conference call and announced 22 cuts. DeVito, whose seven sacks last season were the second-highest total for the Maine Black Bears, didn't make that list and therefore remained on the roster.
"With Mike, he was the only rookie free agent that made it this year," Mangini said. "We had three of them last year. I am just really impressed with his approach, his work ethic, and he's got really good toughness."
It was an impressive first step for DeVito, but he managed to find perspective in his accomplishment.
"My dad brought my car up and we just hung out and went to dinner and didn't really make a big deal out of it because I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me and a lot of stuff I need to do," he said. "But it's nice that I can stick around and be in the organization, be here and be with the guys I know and the coaches I know."
A trio of veteran defensive linemen — Bobby Hamilton, Michael Haynes and Kimo von Oelhoffen — were among the Jets' cuts. DeVito exchanged well wishes with von Oelhoffen, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, before he departed.
"It's tough because those guys helped me out a lot. I looked up to those guys," DeVito said. "They gave me a lot of tips and really helped me learn the system. Without them I don't know how well I would have done, so it is hard to see them leave."
Barring another roster change, he won't have any free time this Saturday and his cellphone will remain off for much of the early evening. Whether he's active for the game or not, he'll be at a local hotel with teammates, meeting and reviewing for a Sunday afternoon regular-season game against the New England Patriots.
"Now I have to stick around," DeVito said. "Now I have to show them that they made the right decision by keeping me and get the trust that they can put me on the field."