It took Darrelle Revis just four games this season to match his interception total of three from his rookie campaign.
"I'm a lot more experienced. My Uncle Sean [Gilbert] told me to just be better this year than I was last year and that's what I've focused on," he said before players departed for their extended bye weekend. "I can see the improvement, I can see the things that I'm doing on film, and I'm going to keep on pushing and keep on trying to be the best player that I can be."
You don't have to speak long to the 23-year-old Revis before he'll mention Gilbert, a defensive lineman who played 11 seasons with four NFL teams.
"He's a smart guy," Revis said. "He knows stuff that I thought he wouldn't know for a cornerback. He's always been in my ear, so I'm happy for that support and that knowledge as well."
Revis, always a tremendous talent, is already a pro's pro. After starting all 16 games in 2007, he began this season with a game-saving interception in the Jets' season-opening win over the Dolphins. A couple of weeks later he helped hold Patriots WR Randy Moss to two catches for 22 yards.
Then in the Jets' shootout victory over the Cards, Revis picked off two Kurt Warner passes, the first of which he returned 32 yards in the second quarter for his first pro touchdown.
"With Darrelle, what I'm seeing is the maturity of his game and his confidence growing every week," says S Kerry Rhodes.
And every week, Revis usually draws the opposition's top target. The 5'11", 204-pound Revis, as smart as he is athletically gifted, is quietly becoming one of the NFL's top cornerbacks.
"I look forward to the challenge every week with any of the receivers I go up against because it's good for us to compete," he said. "Next Sunday, Chad Johnson is one of the best as well and the Bengals have T.J. Houshmandzadeh. It's going to be like this past game against the Cardinals. They've got two great receivers [Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald] and the Bengals have two great receivers. We have to cover them well."
The Bengals will see an improved Revis on Oct. 12. When they saw him last October in Cincinnati, he was a rookie who flashed at times but didn't yet have the consistency he's developed in Year Two.
"In the off-season I focused on my overall game, and that's footwork, hand placement and staying in shape," he said. "You can see the improvement on film and in games that I'm just making progress every day."
As far as the Jets' starting corners are concerned, Revis is the old vet. Rookie Dwight Lowery, a fourth-round pick in April who was a ballhawk at San Jose State, played well during the summer and earned the starting position across from No. 24.
"The coaches have pushed me forward to take that leadership role and I've accepted it," Revis said. "I've been a leader at the high school level, at college and now it's coming back again for me to do it out here. I'm just doing the best I can and giving them positive advice."
The Jets defense forced seven turnovers in their win against the Cardinals and Revis made his pick-six look easy. The Jets confused Warner, rushing only one and then dropping into a zone. Warner threw a pass in the direction of tight end Ben Patrick. Revis, though, effortlessly corralled it before jogging into the end zone.
"I was thinking, 'I'm about to score my first touchdown,' " he said of his jaunt. "It was just exciting, it was a good moment and I made a play on it."
When he reached paydirt, Revis gently underhanded the ball a couple of rows into the stands. After the game, he told reporters there should be more opportunities to retain souvenirs in the future.
It's only a matter of time before Revis establishes a new career high for interceptions, but he's a complete corner who's physical and more than willing to come up and stuff the run. And only a quarter into his second season, he knows there's a lot left to do.
"We've been going over some of the mistakes that we've made the first four games and try to correct them," he said. "We're going to use this week to do that, go over some things and tighten up the defense. We still have a lot more of the season to go and I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team."