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
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."
No Rest for the Weary
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