Ropati Pitoitua was not on the field for this afternoon's special teams practice, but I wanted to talk to the big defensive lineman about the sack he had in the morning session — and the blocked shot he executed in the preseason game against St. Louis.
When I mentioned the full-extension rejection of a Kyle Boller pass with less than a minute left in the first half, Ropati chuckled.
"I heard from a lot of people complimenting me about it," he said. "I've got to use my big frame. It came into use that day. I got a little something out of it."
How big is the Samoa-born DE's frame? He's a legitimate 6'8" and so qualifies as the tallest Jet, although at 310 pounds he's not quite in Kris Jenkins' weight league.
But the rare DE size and the desire to pick up the pro game got Pitoitua invited back to the Jets after he was signed as an undrafted free agent in May 2008 and spent all of last year on the Green & White practice squad.
"It's been a transition," he said, "but I've learned a lot. It's a little different with Coach Ryan and Coach Pettine and their defense. It's an attacking scheme. I'm learning a lot from the coaches and from Marques Douglas and all the guys."
Pitoitua is listed as the No. 2 end behind Shaun Ellis on the Jets' unofficial depth chart, while Mike DeVito is listed as the backup to Douglas at the DT position, which would translate into a 3-technique tackle when Pettine calls for a 4-3 front with the outside LB next to Douglas as a down lineman. But the parts are all interchangeable.
The big thing is getting the scheme, making plays and showing Ryan and Pettine that "the stage isn't too big for you." Pitoitua had his first-half play, so that was nice, and this morning he got after Kellen Clemens for a 10-yard sack during the twos' red zone drills.
Pitoitua doesn't concern himself about where he's stacking up in the DE/DT depth chart.
"I'm not really worried about that right now," he said. "The only thing I can really do is go out and do my best in practice. Then I'll see where it goes."
Thursday Afternoon Notes
The special teams practice is held as usual on the Cortland Stadium turf, and as usual it is a quick review of kickoffs, punts and coverage of both.
RB Jehuu Caulcrick (knee), who practiced in individual drills in the morning, is also participating in these drills.
Nicest play of the half-hour session: New punter Ken Parrish hangs a high kick in plus territory. The ball bounces at the 5 and takes a pretty sharp angle toward the end zone. No way the Jets can tap it back into the field ... can they?
Yes, they can. Wallace Wright leaps from an inch out and slaps the ball toward James Ihedigbo, who downs the ball at the 1.