But as excited as he is to be embarking on what he hopes is a lengthy career, he is eager to prove some people -- every NFL executive who passed him up in the draft -- wrong.
The Cowboys drafted Petitti in the sixth round -- several rounds later
than many predicted he would be chosen. The first Pittsburgh lineman
since Ruben Brown to earn all-Big East honors in consecutive seasons,
Petitti was expected to go as high as the third round.
"The draft was rough," Petitti said. "I watched the whole thing, and it
was rough. I was a little upset. But then, when I got drafted by the
Cowboys, I knew that this was the best team for me to play for."
There is speculation that Petitti slid in the draft because of concerns
over his ability to control his weight (if not because of a turf toe
injury he suffered as a senior). There's no way to call Petitti
anything other than what he is: huge. At the Cowboys' rookie mini-camp,
Petitti was listed as carrying 340 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame -- and
that's a drop from years past.
"I played the last two years at Pitt at 360," he said. "But wherever
they want me, that's where I'll be."
That's the attitude head coach Bill Parcells wants to hear, having
mentioned after the first day of practice that -- like defensive
lineman Marcus Spears, Petitti needs to keep his weight in check. As
large as he is, Petitti already is working on it.
"I played the last two years of college at 360," he said. "I think they
want me to be able to move a little more. If they say I need to lose
more, I'll lose more."
Petitti already has shown his ability to move … off the field. Already
he has moved friends and family back home in Sampson, N.J. to switch
their allegiance from the New York Giants to the Cowboys.
"When I got drafted, about 50 Giants fans became Cowboys fans," he said. And he's
shown similar quickness in his ability to shift his own allegiance.
"I grew up a big Notre Dame fan," Petitti said. "Then I went to Pitt,
so now I hate Notre Dame. Same deal -- I grew up a Giants fan, but now
I'm a Dallas Cowboy, so I hate the Giants."
Petitti said he doesn't know yet what his exact role will be, and that
at the moment, he's not worried about it.
"(The coaches) have said they need some help on the offensive line, but
that's all they said," he said. "I'm not worried right now about
starting. I need to make the team first, and show them that I'm a good
One person -- one very important person -- at Valley Ranch already
noticed Petitti's performance at the Cowboys' mini-camp. After the
first day of mini-camp, it was Petitti -- not first-round selections
DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears -- whose name was the first Parcells
Cautioning that it was way too early to be predicting the fortunes of a
group of rookies who had been with the team for exactly 24 hours,
Parcells nevertheless cited his rookie offensive tackle as a player who
made a good first impression.
"Rob Petitti -- there's a guy," Parcells said, "with a real chance to
Strong First Impression
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