Michael Pittman Jr. played in his third primetime game of the 2021 season last Thursday night against the New York Jets. And for the third time this year, the Colts' wide receiver made a couple of primetime plays, punctuated by his 11-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Through nine games, Pittman is 10th in the NFL in receptions (50), ninth in receiving yards (658) and 10th in receiving touchdowns (5).
"It seems like Pitt, he just goes into kind of a beast mode kind of deal," running back Jonathan Taylor said. "When the ball's in his hands, he's like no one is stopping me, and if the ball's in the air, he's like, this ball is mine — or it's a PI. This is my ball."
Head coach Frank Reich said he's seen quarterback Carson Wentz develop a "special chemistry" with Pittman, the No. 34 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Pittman had an uncomplicated take on why he's vibe so quickly and so well with Wentz.
"Carson just loves to throw it deep," Pittman said, "and I love it too."
Pittman's impact this season has extended well beyond his stats. In Week 7 against the 49ers, he drew a pass interference flag in the second quarter that teed up a one-yard touchdown rush by Wentz; in the third quarter, he erased a first-and-20 by drawing another PI flag on a deep ball, teeing up Taylor for an untouched five-yard touchdown one play later.
"Those are hidden yards," Reich said.
And Pittman's commitment to blocking in the run game – along with guys like Zach Pascal and Ashton Dulin – has helped Taylor spring a league-high 22 runs of 10 or more yards. It's another product of the physical mentality with which Pittman plays, which the Colts greatly appreciate.
"He is unique in that aspect – he just has that tough mentality," offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said. "Even when he's running the ball, he just wants physical contact. There was a play on there probably on the screen where it was like just run over to the space, where there is no one there. He's like looking for contact, that he can lower his shoulder on somebody. But he's just that type of player and you just love that about him."
Thursday's practice report
Two quick notes:
- Wentz's illness is non COVID-related.
- Smith and Hilton's full participation backs up Reich's optimism about their statuses ahead of Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.