This will be a week like no other for Mike DeVito. That's because he is preparing for his first NFL start - at defensive end for the Jets in their regular-season opener against the Texans Sunday in Houston.
DeVito, in his third year out of the University of Maine, will fill in for Shaun Ellis, who is serving a one-game suspension for his arrest last year for marijuana possession.
It will be DeVito's first start since college. He had 24 tackles and one sack last season for the Jets as a backup.
"That's been something that's been on my mind this whole camp," DeVito said of the start in Houston. "That's what I practice for. You want to be the best player you can be, and you want these guys to trust you to be ready to go whenever that time comes. I feel great. I've been learning the little parts of Rex Ryan's system and am starting to roll now."
Even though he knows it will likely be for only the one week, DeVito said the start against the Texans "will mean everything" to him.
"It'll mean that these guys trust me to go out there and start on their defense," he said. "That's what I'm working toward - to gain that trust from the coaches and my players. It'll be a real proud moment."
Considering the small school he came from and the fact that he came into the league as an undrafted minicamp tryout, DeVito is highly appreciative of his journey.
"I'm very grateful for my parents and everyone who helped me to get to this point, and for the Jets for taking a shot on me as a free agent coming out," he said. "I'm very blessed to be where I am. I think about it all the time."
DeVito said he was somewhat taken aback that he was signed by the Jets at all.
"I came in with a guy I went to school with who was an All-American everything," DeVito said of his former college teammate Matt King, who was also brought in at that rookie minicamp three years ago. "He got released that first day. He was a great player and he got released, and I was like, 'Wow, if Matt's gone, how am I going to stay here?' He was, I thought, the better player, and he got released within 24 hours."
King was released by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL last year and has never played in the NFL.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound DeVito believes his career is on the rise thanks to Ryan's defensive system, which he believes will enhance his skills.
"It's great, because I get to utilize my power, which is my strength," DeVito said. "There's no more sitting back and reacting. It's go and get it and make plays. That really fits what I like to do. I like to go straight ahead and run through somebody and this de fense lets you do that."
Ellis said he's confi dent DeVito will handle the start well.
"DeVito will do a great job," Ellis said. "He's very coachable, works and he does everything the right way. You know he's going to give not just 100 percent but 150 percent, because that's the kind of player he is. He's the ultimate professional."
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