Nothing like a challenge, huh?
Against San Diego, rookie right tackle Rob Petitti had to deal with the
nerves and excitement of playing in his first NFL game. A week later,
he had to deal with the Washington Redskins' powerful defense. Now,
with exactly four games under his belt, Petitti faces the most
dangerous one-on-one matchup in his young career when the Philadelphia Eagles and defensive end Jevon Kearse come calling Sunday at Texas
Stadium. Kearse is known as "The Freak" because of his physical
attributes and absurd athleticism, and has the skill, experience and
quickness to make it a long day for any offensive tackle, much less a
rookie. But Petitti sure doesn't sound like an awe-struck youngster
getting ready to take on one of the most feared pass rushers in the
"Every week is the same for me -- I've got to improve," Petitti said.
"He's a good player, but I've got to get better. I've got to trust my
technique. I've got to rely on my technique, because he's a guy who
plays with a high motor."
That's it? "He's a good player?"
To be fair, a quick glance at Kearse's statistics (six tackles, one
sack through the Eagles' first four games) won't make anyone think he's
a player who offensive coordinators lose sleep about when piecing
together their gameplans to face the Eagles. But he is.
Petitti is not the quickest tackle in the NFL. For a 6-foot-6,
320-pound man, he moves very well, but he's not in the same
stratosphere, in terms of quickness, as Kearse (who, before growing
into his frame, was recruited to the University of Florida as a
safety). But that doesn't mean Petitti can't handle quick pass rushers
-- in his redshirt freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh, he
turned in a permanent résumé highlight when he held then-Syracuse (and
current Indianapolis Colts) defensive end Dwight Freeney without a
"I've seen Jevon play -- we all know he's good," Petitti said. "Every
guy who's starting for the first time in the NFL, you can't go into a
game thinking you have to be perfect. You can only do what you can do."
The Cowboys will take measures to help Petitti.
"I've got a rookie right tackle," head coach Bill Parcells said. "You
think I want to keep him out there on Kearse all day?"
To that end, tight ends Dan Campbell and Jason Witten likely will spend
more time staying in to block than they would against many offenses.
"They'll help me out, but they're not going to leave the tight end in
on every play," Petitti said. "It's really just going to depend on
making sure we're in the right formation."
Petitti said there is no one player on the Dallas scout team who is
spending the week trying to simulate Kearse.
"Greg Ellis and Kenyon Coleman -- they're basically who I go up against
every day," Petitti said. "I don't really know how fast (Kearse) is.
I've seen him on TV, and I've seen him on film, but I don't think I'll
really appreciate it until I go against him. The (Ellis and Coleman)
sure don't take it easy on me, that's for sure, and that's good for me.
"I have a great deal of respect for (Kearse), because he's a great
player, but I don't go into a game feeling any intimidation. I played
last week against Warren Sapp -- that's a guy you grow up watching. I
know (Kearse) is a great player, and I know I'm a rookie, but that's no
reason I should get beat."
Ready For 'The Freak' Show?
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