No Rest for the Weary

IRVING, TX - Rookie OT Rob Petitti gears up for another big test this weekend against the Giants.

What's the old saying -- "To be the best, you've got to beat the best"?

Welcome to Rob Petitti's world.

Five games into his NFL career, the Cowboys' rookie right tackle already has experienced something of a baptism by fire. Having survived last week's matchup with Philadelphia defensive end Jevon Kearse, Petitti gets nothing close to a break, as he prepares to face New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.

The New Jersey native grew up a Giants fan, and said he had a Strahan jersey when he was a teenager. Now he's going to be asked to block the NFL's all-time single-season record holder in sacks. Strahan's 121.5 career sacks (3.5 this season) have him tied for 11th (with former Philadelphia and Arizona defensive end Clyde Simmons) for 11th place on the NFL's career list.

Petitti said any thoughts that Strahan might be slowing down in this, his 13th season, couldn't be further from the truth.

"He looks like he's lost a little weight -- he seems quicker," Petitti said. "My thing is, I've got to just get better every day and rely on my technique."

Head coach Bill Parcells said that the Cowboys helped Petitti against Kearse with help from a tight end, but not any more than usual. He said that pattern will continue this week, and that the amount of passing Dallas does will reflect the success of the protection.

"If the protection is good, we'll pass," Parcells said. "If it's not, we won't. Petitti's got another (test) this week. There's no end in sight for him."

Petitti said that the level of competition he's faced in the early going have changed the way he views himself.

"I don't feel like a sixth-round pick anymore," he said. "It's crazy that every week, I'm playing against guys I grew up watching. I got help last week, and I'm sure I'll get some help this week. But I've got to be ready. Again, it's just a matter of getting better every day and relying on technique."

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