Pittman putting practice to work

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Team's third-round pick still trying to get up to the NFL's level of speed

January 03, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

The speed and athleticism that made David Pittman a first-day pick in the 2006 draft have yet to be displayed.

Pittman, who was the Ravens' third-round choice (87th overall) in April, has been deactivated for all 16 regular-season contests and is the team's only cornerback who has not played in a game.

That hasn't, however, stopped Pittman, 23, from continuing to try to prove himself to the coaching staff.

"I think it is somewhat hard to stay motivated, but you've just got to stay focused and continue to try to work," he said. "No matter what, I'm going to always work hard and get into the best shape possible and do my thing."

Pittman's thing at Northwestern State was shutting down receivers. A four-year starter for the Demons, the 5-foot-11, 182-pound cornerback had 147 tackles, 11 interceptions and three interception returns for touchdowns. He was the only Division I-AA defensive back to be invited to the Senior Bowl.

Ten other cornerbacks were selected before Pittman, but his skills persuaded the Ravens to trade their 44th overall pick to the New York Giants for their 56th and 87th overall choices.

But Pittman has struggled to adapt to the speed at the NFL level, according to secondary coach Dennis Thurman. Once regarded as a candidate to contend with Corey Ivy for the nickel back (fifth defensive back) position, Pittman has been leapfrogged on the team's depth chart by second-year veteran Evan Oglesby, undrafted rookie Ronnie Prude, sixth-round selection Derrick Martin and former practice-squad player Jamaine Winborne.

"He thought he could come in and because of his athleticism, because of his speed and quickness, he would just be able to get by on that," Thurman said. "Maybe he didn't understand that there's a lot more that goes into playing professional football than just having physical talent. But he appears to be working his way into becoming a professional with his practice habits, study habits, understanding how to handle himself and carry himself. I believe that David has a chance."

While making it clear that he bears no anger regarding his lack of playing time, Pittman conceded that this season has not unfolded the way he had envisioned.

"But I go into everything hoping for the best," he said. "The season is going good, and maybe I haven't been playing, but we're doing good and stuff. So I'm still happy about everything. "There are a lot of people who wish they were in my shoes today," Pittman said. "So I have nothing to complain about."

False `hut'

Coach Brian Billick accused a Buffalo Bills defensive player of barking out the snap count and causing the Ravens to false start on three occasions in the team's 19-7 victory Sunday.

After quarterback Steve McNair called his first "hut" at the line of scrimmage, it is believed that Buffalo defensive tackle Larry Tripplett followed with a "hut" of his own and led the Ravens to shift before the ball was snapped, resulting in the false start penalties.

"You can't have a defensive lineman call out a snap count. That's illegal, and that's what they were doing. They did it three times," Billick said. "We will bring it to the officials' attention, but there's nothing you can do about it if they're not going to hear it."

The NFL way

With talk swirling that defensive coordinator Rex Ryan could possibly fill a head coaching vacancy in the league, Billick said he had no qualms about endorsing Ryan's candidacy.

Team owner Steve Bisciotti's comfort level with that possibility had been a work in progress, according to Billick.

"It was probably tougher for Steve Bisciotti to get used to," Billick said. "That was the thing that he commented on when he first got into it. He said, `Let me get this right: We develop great coaches so we can give them to our competitors. In my [staffing] business, we just open up another division, another section or something.' But that's what this business is about, and you have that obligation."

Et cetera

Cornerback Corey Ivy has been named the Ravens' 2006 Ed Block Courage Award selection. The recipients -- one from each NFL team -- were selected by their teammates for displaying commitments to the principles of courage and sportsmanship. The award is named after Ed Block, the longtime head trainer of the Baltimore Colts. The 29th annual Ed Block Courage Awards will be presented March 7 at Martin's West.

Matt Stover finished the season as the league's most accurate kicker, converting 93.3 percent (28 of 30) of his field-goal attempts. That edged the Denver Broncos' Jason Elam's 93.1 percent rate (27 of 29). ... Billick said the bye should benefit left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) and right guard Keydrick Vincent (strained groin). "I think we're relatively healthy," Billick said. "We'll make the official declaration next week, but we should have everybody available to us, which is a good thing."

Billick acknowledged that not winning the Super Bowl would constitute an unsuccessful season. "That's the mindset you have," he said. "You'd have a hard time finding anyone in the playoffs that says, `We're just happy to be here.' Why go to the playoffs if it's not to win the Super Bowl? Why would you bother?"

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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