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High Profile: Michael Pittman

By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002

THE BOOK: A four-year player for the Cardinals, Michael Pittman is more of a power runner than a slasher. At 6 feet, 218 pounds, he is more likely to try to run through a defender than around one. Who's going to challenge him anyway, considering he sports a tattoo that reads, "The Real Black Superman."

* * *

THE ARMS: It's hard to look past those gigantic things hanging from Pittman's shoulders. But they are arms. How many times do you see 191/2-inch biceps, and they're not flying off the top rope at your monthly viewing of Wrestlemania? Think about it. That's the waist of a small adult, the neck circumference of a really, really large man. Actually, 191/2 inches is the size of a volleyball ... fully inflated.

* * *

THE ANKLE: In his first day of training camp (July 29) with the Bucs, Pittman sustained a severe sprain of the right ankle and had to wear a boot for the next few days. As it turned out, Pittman, 27, quickly got back to action, but the ankle was sprained again Aug. 12 against the Dolphins. It has been a slow rehab process and one that limited Pittman, to only 11 carries in the preseason. "It's ready to go," he said. "I think I'm almost 100 percent. I'm not even thinking about it."

* * *

THE HISTORY: He may have had a cloud hanging over his head for a couple domestic abuse charges, but what the Bucs saw in Pittman was his productivity during his first four years in the league, all spent in Arizona. Each year it has gotten better. In 1998, as a rookie out of Fresno State, Pittman played 15 games and had only 91 yards. Those numbers increased to 289 yards on 64 carries the following season, when he started two games. But Pittman's stock exploded in 2000 (184 carries, 719 yards) and in 2001 (241 carries, 846 yards).

* * *

THE SOLUTION?: Immediately following the departure of Warrick Dunn to the Falcons, the Bucs homed in on Pittman. With a running game that finished 31st in the league last year and could manage only 85.7 yards per game, the Bucs hope Pittman's bruising style will make a difference. Verification begins today, but although Pittman only had 11 carries in the preseason, he finished with 61 yards. The 5.5-yard average was the best for the Bucs during preseason.

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