Last 3 games critical to Pittman's future

Injuries have given him chance to play, but he hasn't lived up to Ravens' hopes

Pro football

December 16, 2007|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

With both first-string cornerbacks likely to be sidelined today, David Pittman has a chance to change the course of his Ravens career.

A third-round pick in 2006, Pittman has begun to wear out the patience of the coaching staff with his slow progress at cornerback. The final three games of this season could determine whether he has a future with the team.

"We're going to have a couple more weeks to give him an opportunity to see if he can live up to the hope that we had for him," coach Brian Billick said.

Pittman was exposed in last Sunday's 44-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Playing because of injuries to Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, Pittman was burned for two touchdowns.

"Honestly, I need to make up for what happened last week," Pittman said. "I made a couple of careless mistakes, and it wound up costing us as a team."

Asked about the importance of the remaining games, he said, "I guess it could be a deciding factor in how they view me and my talent."

Pittman will be back on the field because the Ravens have few other options.

With McAlister on injured reserve and Rolle nursing a shoulder injury, the Ravens probably will start Corey Ivy and Derrick Martin. That means Pittman - the only cornerback remaining besides Ronnie Prude - is expected to play nickel back.

"The ability is there," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said of Pittman. "We're not going to beg somebody to do something. He's got to take it upon himself and learn from his mistakes. It's good if you have a short memory. But if you're not learning from your mistakes, who cares? Hopefully, he can grow from it."

Pittman has yet to seize any of his opportunities.

When they drafted him, the Ravens penciled him in as the nickel back. But he was beaten out by Ivy and was inactive for every game last season.

In this year's preseason, the Ravens put Pittman into the starting lineup when Rolle got hurt. But when the regular season started, the Ravens showed more faith in Martin, a 2006 sixth-round pick who was drafted 121 spots after Pittman.

Because Pittman came from Northwestern State, a Division I-AA school, there has been talk that the game might be too big for him.

Ryan said Pittman's main hurdle is confidence.

"That's critical for that position," Ryan said. "I know he believes in his abilities. But he's got to believe in his coaches. When he's told something during the week, he's got to believe it. David has some natural abilities. He's got the physical talent to play in this league, for sure."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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