According to his offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. compares favorably to a future First-Ballot NFL Hall of Famer in at least one regard—his ability to run after the catch (via The Athletic’s Stephen Holder):
Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni just made a comparison linking Michael Pittman to Larry Fitzgerald in terms of their ability to run after the catch, and I totally agree. Neither has blazing speed but they are good, physical runners in the open field.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) November 17, 2020
Longtime Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who has the second most career receiving yards in NFL history (17,357), behind only the greatest of all-time Jerry Rice, presumably knows a thing or two about running after the catch.
At 6’3”, 218 pounds, Fitzgerald is also a big bodied wideout that is similar in stature to Pittman Jr.—who’s listed at a slightly larger 6’4”, 223 pounds.
Which this past Thursday night on primetime—and on full display, Pittman Jr.’s physicality and toughness with the football in his hands was somewhat reminiscent of his father, former NFL running back Michael Pittman Sr. carrying the ole’ pigskin—who was a ‘banger’ and a load between the tackles:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 13, 2020
While many pro wideouts would’ve made a beeline to the sidelines in those situations for safety, Pittman Jr. stayed inbounds and actively sought out contact—fighting for the extra yards—making smaller defensive backs pay in the process for stepping in harm’s way.
But it’s more than that for the younger Pittman, who happens to play another position entirely than his pops.
After the catch, it’s the deceptive speed for a wideout of his sheer size, the acceleration and the burst, and the ability/vision to slice through open creases with the football in his hands to extend plays.
Those are things that can’t necessarily be taught.
Anytime a young player gets compared to one of the NFL’s all-time receiving greats, it’s quite a tip of the helmet—even if it came from one of his coaches.
That’s elite company after all.
While he still admittedly has some work to do, the rookie wideout’s early Colts career is already off to a very promising start—having overcome an injury setback to begin the season—but appears fully back in the saddle again.