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    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Antonio Pittman may be a 'find' for Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    Friday, Nov. 16 2007

    Watching his Ohio State Buckeyes lose to Illinois spoiled Antonio Pittman's
    appetite last Saturday.

    "I didn't even look into getting any food in New Orleans," Pittman said.

    But the following day in the Superdome, Pittman gave the Rams' coaching staff
    food for thought. Given his first chance at any appreciable playing time at
    running back, the Ohio State product carried seven times for 53 yards.

    His 43-yard ramble on the final play of the third quarter was the Rams' longest
    run of the season and set up their final touchdown in a 37-29 upset over the

    On the play, Pittman headed up the middle, made a jump cut to his left and then
    accelerated through a hole created by blocks from tight ends Randy McMichael
    and Joe Klopfenstein.

    When the hole developed, Pittman said, "My eyes lit up. It was overwhelming.
    ... You dream about running down the field in the NFL. It finally came true."

    Pittman could see the end zone as soon as the hole opened, though he
    inadvertently stepped out at the 1. The Rams, meanwhile, can the see future.

    Sunday's game provided a tease of what could be a talented backfield of the
    future. Steven Jackson, obviously, is the centerpiece and the workhorse.
    Jack-of-all-trades Brian Leonard was used as a fullback and a third-down back
    against New Orleans, which was the plan all along when he was drafted in the
    second round last April. The added bonus is Pittman, a rookie who was claimed
    off waivers by the Saints at the end of the preseason.

    Coach Scott Linehan liked what he saw of the trio against New Orleans.

    "We'd like to keep that going as much as we can," Linehan said. "It was really
    encouraging. (Pittman) didn't get a lot of carries, but he took advantage of
    the ones he got."

    And Linehan liked what he saw out of Leonard at the fullback position.

    "He's a competitive player," Linehan said. "He's not the 250-pound lead
    blocker that maybe everybody thinks of as a fullback, but he gets the job done.
    He's also a threat having the ball in his hands one way or another whether
    it's handing him the ball or throwing him the ball.

    "That's really the role, the vision that I had personally when he came here
    that he was going to be a guy that could really do just about anything, from
    fullback to tailback to third-down back, to special teams player."

    Unofficially, Leonard was in for 21 plays at fullback against New Orleans,
    mostly in two-back sets with Jackson. He was also in for six plays at halfback.
    Overall, Leonard got four touches in the game on two carries and two catches.
    But he did a lot of lead blocking for Jackson as well, and was effective.

    Listed at 226 pounds, Leonard isn't going to knock over linebackers, but he is
    a willing blocker. He does more than just try to get in the way.

    "You're not going to blow a linebacker up in the NFL it doesn't matter if
    you're 260 or 230," Leonard said. "I believe I can get to the hole quicker than
    most fullbacks. And maybe make the hole bigger because I'm there faster."

    It has been a mind-numbing nine games for Leonard in the NFL. Just about every
    conceivable role that the Rams had in mind for him materialized in 2 months,
    including being the feature back for four-plus games when Jackson was sidelined
    by groin and back injuries.

    "I've had a lot of different roles this year, and I've embraced each one I
    had," Leonard said. "It's been different. I thought going into this thing that
    I would mostly (play) fullback. But then, obviously, 'Jack' went down, so I was
    a running back.

    "Jack's healthy. Pitt's playing good. Now, I'm a third-down back and fullback.
    It's been a fun experience, a learning experience for me."

    Leonard flashed enough skills at running back to gain 102 yards against Arizona
    in Game 5. Other than Jackson's 115-yard outing in Game 3 against Tampa, it's
    the only 100-yard rushing game of the season for the Rams.

    Even though the Rams worked Pittman into the rotation, Jackson still had 27
    touches against New Orleans 28 if you count his touchdown pass. He likes the
    look of the revamped backfield.

    "Brian definitely gives us an option at fullback because when he's not
    blocking, he's like an extra receiver on the field," Jackson said. "So he gives
    us an advantage in that area. To get Pittman some game time and some carries,
    especially against New Orleans last week, it was pretty meaningful to him and
    allows him to grow and get better as well."

  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Antonio Pittman may be a 'find' for Rams

    A 'find' is right. I was excited to see Pittman become a Ram from day one because of his potential and now it seems that that potential is much closer to reality.

    Still, I believe -- or envision -- this rookie could give shape to a real set of successful Rams RBs in Jax accompanied by both Pittman and Leonard on various formations with or without one of them on the field. Leonard is a proven RB receiver too.

    Also, Leonard seems to be of the class that puts the team first, willing to do whatever the team needs in order to succeed. Just like he did at Rutgers.

    Hopefully this trio will be ready Vs. Friskie Whiners. :bash:

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