INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. talked to local reporters today via video conference. What did he have to say about his early learning curve at the wide receiver position, why he takes so much pride in run blocking and more? Here's the latest edition of "Colts Chatter."
Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
» Two games into his NFL career, Pittman Jr. sees a couple clear differences from the college game: Pittman Jr. was a standout wide receiver at USC, where he compiled 171 receptions for 2,519 yards and 19 touchdowns; he had an especially productive final season in 2019, when he caught 101 passes for 1,275 yards and 11 scores, and he would eventually be selected in the second round (34th overall) by the Colts in April's NFL Draft.
At 6 foot 4 and 223 pounds, Pittman Jr. has been seen as the ideal "X" receiver in head coach Frank Reich's offense — a guy that primarily lines up on the outside and can use his size, his strong hands and his go-and-get-it skillset to make plays all over the field. Through his first two NFL games, Pittman Jr. has six receptions for 47 yards; he was able to double his production from Week 1 (two receptions for 10 yards) to Week 2 (four receptions for 37 yards).
So what's been the biggest difference between the college and pro game so far?
"It's really not that much different in the sense of like, it's football," Pittman Jr. said. "I'd say the difference is the violence that goes into football now because everything is more violent. It's faster and I'd really say that's probably the biggest thing. It is more violent and DBs (defensive backs) have better ball skills."
Pittman Jr. also has already been able to display a bit of toughness to his new team. He suffered a toe injury during last Thursday's practice, which kept him out of practice the following day. He was a game-time decision last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, but ended up playing 92 percent of the offensive snaps (67 in all), the most of any wide receiver on the team that day.
"My biggest thing is just helping us win," Pittman Jr. said. "And me not playing isn't really helping us win."
» Lessons learned from his father about being a reliable blocker are coming in handy now as a rookie in the NFL: Pittman Jr.'s father, Michael Pittman, played 11 NFL seasons as a running back with the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos from 1998 through 2008, compiling 1,392 career rushing attempts for 5,627 yards and 25 touchdowns along the way.
But one of the biggest lessons Pittman tried to pass along to his son as he grew up around the game was much of his production as a rusher wouldn't have been possible had it not been for teammates at wide receiver who were solid, willing blockers in the run game.
Now creating his own path as an NFL wide receiver, Pittman Jr. realizes just what his dad was telling him all along. He was a key piece last Sunday to fellow rookie Jonathan Taylor's first-career 100-yard rushing day, and will continue to be counted on in that area moving forward.
"When he talks about guys like Keyshawn Johnson, he talks very highly of him because he was a great blocking receiver," Pittman Jr. said about his dad. "The way that he talks about him, I want Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim (Hines), Marlon (Mack) to say those same things about me."