FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Robert Saleh is a defensive-minded New York Jets head coach, so he had just spent significant time watching Kyle Pitts work up close during Friday's joint practice with the Falcons.
He was asked about the benefits of his players working against last year's No. 4 overall pick, a Pro Bowler who exceeded 1,000 yards a rookie. You just knew a compliment was coming Pitts' way.
This one, however, was next level.
"He is a create-a-player on Madden," Saleh said. "That's exactly what you would look like. He's going to be a dynamic football player for a long time. Anytime you get a chance to see just different avatars, they're just different. When you get a chance to go up against those guys, it's looks different, it feels different, and it elevates, and it just teaches you a few things."
The Jets enjoyed the competition against a rising star and elite talent at his position over two days working against the Falcons, with game upcoming on Monday night.
Pitts enjoyed the exchange, too, especially after practicing against his own team all summer.
"It was competitive. Fun. High emotion," Pitts said after Saturday's workout. "Going out there against a different team is always great. We've just got to continue to build off these practices."
Pitts was then asked if knew about Saleh's quote from the day before.
"I saw it, yeah," Pitts said, with a wry smile. "It was pretty cool."
Saleh isn't wrong. Pitts is an athletic freak, some one big enough to play in-line tight end at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds and quick enough to play any receiver spots. He's way bigger than your typical cornerback, way faster than a linebacker or safety.
So, yeah, you're probably building Pitts if you're creating a tight end in a lab.
Even Pitts had to admit that creating a tight end in Madden would probably come out looking like him.
"Close to it," he said.
Pitts is an 87, someone the Madden folks consider a vertical threat. He's probably more than that now, with a real offseason emphasis on route running and blocking, which has been evident during training camp. He might require a rating adjustment as the season goes on.
"Mentally, I feel like I've grown," Pitts said. "Especially before the ball is snapped. I'm still trying to get better at it, both post-snap and pre-snap, by maturing mentally first."
We've all seen what Pitts can do on the field. Even Pitts doesn't know what the avatar version of himself can do in Madden 23, which was released on Friday.
"I haven't played it yet," Pitts said. "When I get home, though, I will."