Dewayne Robertson continues to impress. One sign of that for me came following the hot, hot, hot Thursday morning practice — then perhaps 20 more minutes of post-practice work for the Jets defensive tackle.
Finally he came over to talk without sweat pouring off him or belting down fluids. His only concession to the heat was to drape a white Gatorade towel over his head.
"I'm good, man," D-Rob said. "Camp is always hard, but we know what's going on now so we can do what we need to do."
Informed that the morning's session was the longest of camp so far, he said, "We just go till the horn blows."
If there's a better mindset with which to attack Mangini Camp II, I don't know what it is.
But there are two more things about Robertson as he begins his fifth season in green. One is the peace, the calm demeanor he seems to be bringing to what many see as a thankless role of two-gapping in the middle of a 3-4 defense, made more thankless by what many still feel is an undersized 317-pound roster weight.
"Well, I hold my own," he said. "I don't get into what people expect, as long as I'm doing my job and what's expected of me.
"Nose is not that difficult — keep the guy off the linebacker. It's [tough] sometimes when you've got the guard crashing down on you, you get wham-blocked and all that. But it's a great position. I love it. I've learned a lot from playing it."
When is the last time we heard that affectionate description of life in the proverbial NFL phonebooth?
The other quality is that D-Rob exudes power. No, he's not a Ted Washington/Sam Adams space eater. But as general manager Mike Tannenbaum said during a radio interview the first day of camp, "Dewayne Robertson looks excellent. He reported in great shape."
"That's one of my priorities, my weight, conditioning, all that stuff," he said. "I'm glad I came into camp in shape. That's big, because as a younger player I used to come in and try to get in shape during camp. But you know, as I got older, the last two years, I came to camp pretty much in pretty good shape."
Robertson is having a quietly strong camp. Those interior 3-4 guys are hard to get handles on sometimes during the summer fun, but as often as Thomas Jones or Leon Washington have hit the A gap flying, they've also found the lanes as clogged as the Cross Bronx on a Sunday night coming home from the beach.
And D-Rob added a sack of Chad Pennington during Thursday night's closed game-situation scrimmage.
The nose numbers may never show it — I still remember Shaun Ellis' great distillation that "The 3-4 isn't a stats defense, it's a team defense — but Robertson seems to be in the perfect physical and mental zones to attack the season.
"I'm ready to build off of last year," he said. "I had a pretty decent year. I just want to start fast and put another good year on top of last year."
But then comes the Mangini mantra.
"You know what? What we did last year really doesn't even mean anything. We're only as good as our last play. We just want to come out, bust our butts and make sure we're constantly working hard to get better. We're not trying to compare ourselves and think we're going to be OK, because that's not how it happens. We're not predicting anything."