Crosstraining means one thing to the weekend athlete, quite another to a 300-pound trenchman like Mike DeVito.
"I try to crosstrain so I know all three spots," DeVito told me today about working at defensive end and at the 1- and 3-technique tackle spots in the Jets' new defense. "I probably haven't taken as many reps at nose as I have in the past couple of days, but I've been crosstraining so that if any of those guys need me to go in there, I'll be able to go."
We got some looks at DeVito the nose — or as assistant defensive coach Chuck Smith likes to call him, "DeVito the Bruiser" — during running drills this morning and the penetration was noticeable.
The third-year man from the University of Maine and the state of Massachusetts with family ties in the New York area, is muscling his way into the D-line rotation plans. In fact, with DE Shaun Ellis facing the one-game suspension for the season opener at Houston, No. 70 could be very visible against the Texans.
"I think we're trying to renegotiate a contract with him, so DeVito's just an average player," head coach Rex Ryan joked. "He really is doing a great job. He's a smart guy, tough as nails. He reminds me of a taller Kelly Gregg, and that's a compliment. Kelly was a great player who I coached at Oklahoma and then about 10 years with the Ravens. I think Mike can be that kind of player. I think he'll play in this league a long time. He's valuable, an excellent player, and he's a guy you can plug anywhere. You can do all kinds of things with him and he's going to push to be a starter."
"I'm learning a lot. I'm getting better every day. The coaches have been great," DeVito said modestly. "And Shaun's a great player and I've learned so much from him. But I'm just focusing on the next day. I'm going to keep working, keep trying to get better and gain the trust of my teammates."
Wednesday Morning Notes
The players take to the Cortland Stadium turf for an 8:50 a.m. start due to the grass field absorbing heavy rains late Tuesday.
Mark Sanchez comes out with the first offense this morning — Kellen Clemens will be with the ones for the 4:10 p.m. practice — and has a mixed session.
In 7-on-7 drills, Sanchez is looking for Jerricho Cotchery but doesn't seem to see Lito Sheppard, who snaps up the pass and takes off upfield. Lito is looking for the lateral and flips it back to Jim Leonhard, but only after Kareem Brown comes "off the bench" to playfully end the corner's INT return.
Sanchez completes a nice long out to Chansi Stuckey, drawing applause from the fans. It's good to continue the play but the rookie would've been sacked before ever getting the throw off by Eric Smith, blitzing off the corner and running past No. 6.
Sanchez's nicest throw of the practice may be a throw over the middle that WW, Wallace Wright, snares against Drew Coleman for the first-down reception.
The second defense has some nice run stops against Shonn Greene and Danny Woodhead, with some big tackles being made by DE Ropati Pitoitua, DT Howard Green and LBs Jason Trusnik and Larry Izzo.
Rex Ryan is quarterbacking a makeshift offense giving looks to the first defense, and Rex is off his game. He goes 0-for-5 with two interceptions and a dropped pass.
"It's going good. We've had a lot of spirited practices out there," Rex said of today's session and the three weeks at Cortland in general. "The guys were energized, doing a tremendous job. The focus is good. I love the competition. And it's not false enthusiasm. I like the enthusiasm our guys have."
Ryan also announced that CB Donald Strickland will miss the Baltimore game with a broken toe. "If this was a regular-season game, he'd probably play," the coach said, "but we're going to hold him out."
Ryan said with the way Nick Mangold has been progressing from his knee injury, "Hopefully he'll be able to play Monday night. ... I think that's a definitely possibility."
He listed T Damien Woody, DT Kris Jenkins and CB Darrelle Revis as all "questionable to doubtful."
Coach Schotty's Back
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was back at practice this morning for the first time in two days. Schottenheimer, who was Drew Brees' quarterbacks coach in San Diego before coming to the Jets in 2006, left to pay his respects to Brees' mother, Mina, who was reported to have died in Colorado. Schottenheimer left before Monday's late practice and was back barking out offensive calls this morning.
Players don't usually take the elevator up to the fifth floor of the Cortland Stadium pressbox, where the media relations and Internet/publications offices are. But today the place was crawling with big-name Jets, either in person or in voice.
Kris Jenkins came up to talk with reporter Deb Handy about his summer wedding and to consult with me about the wedding shots he wants to see in a slideshow that will accompany Deb's story. We'll have that for you next week, after the team returns to Florham Park.
Mark Sanchez had also made the ascent to sit two rooms away from us for a taped interview with NFL Films. As Jenkins sat with me looking over photos, he pounded a few times on the glass behind me, with the noise reverberating across an empty room and being picked up by the NFL Films microphones. When Sanchez and the film crew realized it was just Big Jenks messing with them, everyone was all smiles.
Meanwhile, Eric Allen and our on-site tech monster, Paul Marsh, were feverishly trying to get our phone situation straightened out so we could record our next Jets Radio installment, this one with very special guest Thomas Jones.
EA and Marshie got the lines of communication open, Jenkins left in time so I could jump into the second seat in the "studio," and we got an outstanding 18-minute interview with TJ that our other tech guru, Mike Ryan (no relation to Rex) will post for us all on newyorkjets.com a little later this afternoon.
A crazy midday confluence of events, but crazy in a good way.