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  1. #1
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    Rams run with chance to acquire Pittman

    By Jim Thomas
    Tuesday, Sep. 04 2007

    The Rams paid a lot of attention to Ohio State running back Antonio Pittman
    during the months leading to the 2007 draft.

    "The running back coach (Wayne Moses) came down to my pro day," Pittman said
    Monday. "They were the first team I met with at the (NFL scouting) combine."

    And in April, Pittman was among four running backs brought into Rams Park for
    pre-draft visits. "It was a good visit," Pittman said. "I had a good meeting
    with the coaches and everything. I enjoyed myself."

    After that, Pittman felt he could end up with the Rams. After all, as Pittman
    said, "We've seen a lot of each other."

    Pittman ended up a Ram, it just took a few extra months. He was claimed on
    waivers Sunday by the Rams after being released by New Orleans. Pittman arrived
    in St. Louis just before midnight Sunday.

    He spent Monday meeting with the coaching staff, going over the playbook, and
    getting a tour of Rams Park for the second time in less than five months. Did
    the place look familiar?

    "Just about all of it," Pittman said, with a laugh.

    Despite their pre-draft interest in Pittman, the Rams picked Rutgers running
    back-fullback Brian Leonard in the second round. Pittman, despite being
    generally considered the third-best back in the draft behind Oklahoma's Adrian
    Peterson and California's Marshawn Lynch, lasted until the fourth round.

    Given the fact that New Orleans already had star running backs Deuce McAllister
    and Reggie Bush on its roster, it was surprising to see the Saints take Pittman
    — trading up with Houston to do so.

    "You just can't have enough of these runners," Saints coach Sean Payton told
    the New Orleans Times-Picayune after selecting Pittman. "We'll figure out his
    role down the road."

    But in a move that was equally surprising to some observers in New Orleans,
    Pittman was beaten out for the No. 4 running back spot by Pierre Thomas, an
    undrafted rookie from Illinois.

    Thomas outplayed Pittman during the preseason. In the last exhibition game,
    against Miami, Thomas had 128 yards rushing-receiving, including the game's
    only touchdown. The week before against Kansas City, Thomas scored two
    fourth-quarter TDs.

    Pittman was solid but unspectacular in exhibition play, rushing for 77 yards on
    21 carries against Miami. But he had pass protection problems against
    Cincinnati, yielding two sacks. And Thomas had more special-teams value; he had
    returned kicks at Illinois. Pittman did not play special teams at Ohio State.

    "Yeah, I was surprised (to get cut)," Pittman said. "But in the situation down
    there, you've got Reggie and Deuce. Being a competitive player, you want to be
    on the field. But with two guys like that, they basically cover up a lot of
    ground as far as playing time."

    With Steven Jackson entrenched as the centerpiece of the offense, and with
    Leonard showing himself to be a versatile role player behind Jackson, will
    Pittman's chances for playing time be any better in St. Louis?

    "I hope so," Pittman said. "I want to go out there, learn this offense first,
    and then get out there and compete, make the most of every opportunity I get. I
    would say the chances are better here than they were in New Orleans."

    If he is to contribute quickly, he will have to polish up his pass blocking and
    blitz pickup, something Scott Linehan demands of all his running backs. And
    Pittman must show he can catch the ball out of the backfield; he caught only 37
    passes over his college career at Ohio State.

    "We had very good grades on him coming out of college," Linehan said. "And he
    played well enough as a rookie (in the preseason) to confirm what we thought of

    While conceding that Pittman needs to work on his pass catching and pass
    blocking, Linehan said he has natural vision and very good speed. Linehan said
    the team would take a patient "wait-and-see" approach before determining
    Pittman's role with the team.

    At 5-11, 207 pounds, Pittman has average size for an NFL running back.

    "He's a straight-line guy," one veteran NFL scout said. "He runs hard. ... He's
    not a jitterbug. He's not a make-you-miss-in-space guy. It's a good 'get' for
    the Rams."

    Even though Pittman, 21, left Ohio State a year early, he finished eighth in
    school history in rushing yards (2,945). He fumbled only twice in 557 rushing
    attempts for the Buckeyes. All in all, it's been a humbling last few months for
    Pittman, a college star who expected to be a "first-day" draft pick.

    "I've always been the guy to overcome a lot of things," he said. "So those
    setbacks aren't much to me."

    For example, Pittman's father never saw him play in college until last season's
    national championship game against Florida. He had been in prison. Also,
    Pittman's older brother accidentally shot himself to death when Pittman was 14.


    The Rams have completed their practice squad by adding CBs Josh Lay and Darius
    Vinnett, plus RB John David Washington. ... After being released Saturday by
    the Rams, LB Jon Alston signed with Oakland's practice squad.

  2. #2
    Goldenfleece's Avatar
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    Re: Rams run with chance to acquire Pittman

    After being released Saturday by
    the Rams, LB Jon Alston signed with Oakland's practice squad.
    Now that is a waste of talent. I wonder whether we even tried to sign him to our practice squad.

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