INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. today spoke to the media via video conference call. What were some top takeaways about how he's enjoying his first week in Indianapolis working out with teammates, how he fits at the X-receiver spot and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some highlights:
» Getting to Indianapolis this week for the first time as a member of the Colts, Pittman Jr. "felt like I was home:" Pittman Jr. is a California kid through and through; a native of Woodland Hills, Calif., he went on to star at USC in the Los Angeles area before being selected by the Colts in the second round (34th overall) of this year's NFL Draft.
But because the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the closure of all team facilities across the NFL — and the implementation of a virtual offseason workout program — Pittman Jr. and his teammates have had to navigate team meetings and even workouts via various video conferencing methods at their respective homes.
With many of those restrictions starting to be lifted across the country, however, Colts players have slowly been trickling back into Indianapolis in recent days and weeks; this week, many of those guys have been getting together on their own to try to help make up for lost on-field time over the past couple months.
Pittman Jr. said he arrived in Indianapolis Monday, and after understandably feeling a bit of homesickness early on, he quickly started to pick up on the whole Indy vibe.
"After that practice I felt good. I felt like I was home," Pittman Jr. said. "I felt like all of my teammates were very welcoming and it just made everything easier because everybody is so cool. I think that we have a real family-style team and I can't wait."
» Pittman Jr. is excited to showcase his talents primarily from the 'X' receiver position: While all Colts receivers will be expected to remain productive wherever they're lined up in the formation, head coach Frank Reich has indicated that the ideal spot for Pittman Jr. at "X" receiver, which usually is lined up on the outside (and, for the most part, stays outside, as opposed to other receivers, who can be put into motion).
Pittman Jr. thrived in this role at USC, where he appeared in 48 games with 30 starts, and tallied 171 receptions for 2,519 yards (14.7 avg.) and 19 touchdowns. As a senior in 2019, Pittman Jr. was named a Second-Team All-American after totaling 101 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 scores.
The X receiver really needs to be able to do it all; among other skills, they need strength off the snap to evade press coverage, they need sharp route-running skills, they need to have elite hands and then they also need enough speed to be a weapon deep down the field.
The 6-foot-4, 223-pound Pittman Jr. checks all of those boxes.
"Probably the X's responsibility is to go deep, to block, run slants, go's and posts and really have those tough-down catches," he said. "I feel like that's what I can do because I am a big body, strong, fast guy and I feel like that is made for me. So I'm excited for it."
» Pittman Jr. wants to showcase a quiet confidence in his rookie season: While most rookies enter the league and have to figure out on their own how exactly to navigate building a relationship with their veteran teammates, Pittman Jr. has a bit of a leg up.
His dad, Michael Pittman Sr., played 11 seasons in the NFL as a running back for the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos, so Junior already has a good idea what to expect in that regard.
They key, Pittman Jr. says, is to know your place as a rookie, yet still do whatever you can, whenever possible, to showcase what got you on an NFL roster to begin with.
"You have to be confident, but you can't be … I say you have to be confidently quiet," Pittman Jr. said. "You have to be confident enough to make the plays, but when a vet says something you have to be confident enough to take that constructive criticism and you have to know your place. That's something that my dad taught me. It's something that makes sense to me. I don't really take it as, 'He's trying to embarrass me.' I just take it like, 'He's treating me like he treats every other rookie.' Don't get in your feelings and be quietly confident."
Get your first look at Michael Pittman Jr. after he was picked 34th overall by the Indianapolis Colts.