Ravens' Pittman still waiting to contribute

'06 third-round pick must `grow up,' Ryan says

From The Cover

April 09, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

From the Cover

Pittman ready to work Ravens cornerback David Pittman might have been tempted to spread around the blame for a rookie season in which he was deactivated for all 16 of the team's regular-season games and one playoff game.

There was the strained hamstring that sidelined him for most of training camp and the adjustment that many first-year players have to make when leaping to the NFL from college.

But that's not Pittman's style. In fact, the 23-year-old, who has been working out at the team's training complex in Owings Mills, said the only guilty party is himself.

"I would say that I guess I didn't build enough trust in the coaches' eyes for them to think that I was ready to play yet," he said. "I didn't come in and do exactly what they wanted me to do."

It's a candid confession from a cornerback who was the only Division I-AA defensive back invited to last year's Senior Bowl and garnered enough attention for the Ravens to select him in the third round, making Pittman the 11th cornerback selected in last year's draft.

But it didn't shock Jason Rollins, his position coach at Northwestern State.

"He's not going to make any excuses on why he's not playing," said Rollins, who is the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at McNeese State. "He's not your typical DB who is brash or cocky. He's a level-headed country guy."

That disposition might prove handy, especially if the Ravens elect to take a cornerback with either the 29th or 61st overall picks in this month's draft.

That option could be very attractive if Arkansas' Chris Houston, Texas' Aaron Ross or Fresno State's Marcus McCauley dropped to No. 29 or Syracuse's Tanard Jackson, Nevada-Las Vegas' Eric Wright or California's Daymeion Hughes became available in the second round.

While acknowledging that possibility, Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said he expects contributions from the players on the current roster, especially the 5-foot-11, 182-pound Pittman.

"We got nothing out of David Pittman, who was a third-round pick," Ryan said at the Ed Block Courage Awards last month. "So he's got to grow up. He's got as much ability as most guys playing in this league. It's up to him to grow up, get in here and become a professional, and if he does that, I think he's got a chance to be a good one."

Pittman, who did not object to Ryan's comments, said he struggled with confidence and concentration last year. If a receiver beat him on a route during practice, Pittman would become frustrated and sometimes lose his focus.

"It was more mental than physical," he said. "Playing this position, you're supposed to have a sharp memory, and I think sometimes I might have let my mind-frame slip away from that. That is what maybe caused me to have a low confidence level."

Pittman said he tried to stay motivated by challenging wide receivers Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams during practice and seeking advice from starting cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle.

But when he was asked if not suiting up for every game hurt, Pittman said, "Yeah, it did. But I still learned a lot. Being on the sidelines, you still get to watch what happens and you can look at it from a different perspective. You get to see the ins and outs of everything that's going on."

Pittman said he has rededicated himself to hitting the weight room and learning from the coaches. Though he declined to say whether he is aiming to be the defense's nickel back, Pittman said he wants to prove himself to the coaches.

"I'm going to go out there and compete and give it all I've got, be more mentally focused, and just take it one day at a time," he said. "I know they're expecting a lot out of me, and I'm expecting a lot out of myself. I'm excited and I'm ready to start today."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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