Wilkerson worked with the first-team defense on Friday, and will start at defensive end on Sunday night against Dallas.
I cannot help but wonder whether the team is just trying to justify the first round pick it used in April on Wilkerson because I thought Ropati Pitoitua looked a lot better in preseason. Playing the defensive in a base 3-4 is a difficult task for a rookie. It frequently takes years for players to learn consistent technique, particularly guys who play at small schools who can dominate weak competition while still getting away with flaws in their fundamentals. I am not sure Wilkerson is ready for a big role. I fear this might be the Kyle Wilson mistake of asking a rookie to master a really difficult position too soon all over again.
Wilkerson does seem like a better pass rusher than Ropati so perhaps the team is looking to compensate for the losses of Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce, the Jets' two best pass rushing defensive linemen from last year and hope Sione Pouha, Mike Devito, and the linebackers can help carry the rookie a bit on running downs.
We are sure to see plenty of Ropati who figures to be part of a rotation.