Injuries prevented Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. from hitting the ground running as a rookie last season. Once he was healthy though, the USC product showed the NFL world what he’s capable of.
In eight starts, Pittman had 40 receptions for 503 yards and a touchdown. He saved arguably his best performance as a pro for the playoffs, hauling in five passes for 90 yards in a Wild Card matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
Now that he’ll have another year to master Frank Reich’s system, Pittman is expected to take a huge leap this fall. Many analysts believe he’ll be the No. 1 wide receiver for the Colts, which makes sense when you take his athleticism, catch radius and overall potential into consideration.
There might be a slight adjustment period for Pittman since he has a new starting quarterback for the 2021 season, but he’s working as hard as possible this offseason to make sure he’s on the same page with all his teammates.
We sat down with Michael Pittman Jr. to discuss his rookie season, his thoughts on Colts quarterback Carson Wentz, what fans can expect from him this fall and much more.
The Spun: How would you grade your rookie season?
Michael Pittman: I’m really critical of myself, so I would say it wasn’t what I was hoping for. It wasn’t up to my level of play, I think.
The Spun: You came on strong during the second half of the 2020 season. What was the reason for that?
MP: That was just me coming back from injury. It was kind of heading in that direction until I got hurt Week 3, so that set everything back. It was more of me getting familiar with the offense.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 13, 2020
The Spun: Who was the best cornerback you faced last season?
MP: Not that I don’t give defensive backs credit, but whenever we [wide receivers] get covered, it’s usually something we did [wrong]. Two defensive players I would watch growing up though were Marcus Peters and Tre’Davious White. Those are lockdown cornerbacks who I was excited to play against as a rookie.
The Spun: Your rookie class had so much talent at wide receiver. Do you feel like that helps you guys motivate each other?
MP: I don’t think we compare what we do on the field, but we go out there and work together. I actually train with Chase Claypool and Brandon Aiyuk, so I see them a lot. We trained at the same spot coming out of college and still go back there to train. It’s good to be in that group and have that same goal. It definitely helps us get more competitive, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter too much.
Michael Pittman Jr. gets LOOSE for the TD 🔥
His first career one.
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) November 22, 2020
The Spun: Were you a bit surprised by how Philip Rivers handles himself on the field?
MP: Philip probably had the most energy of any player going into Year 17, so it was just awesome to play with him. He always had juice and was always ready to play.
The Spun: What are your early thoughts on Carson Wentz?
MP: He has a strong arm, he’s a smart guy and he’s really athletic. I think he’s going to be great for us. I’ve worked with him a lot and I’m excited to see what he can do this year. I think he’s going to try to prove everyone wrong.
— Stampede Blue (@StampedeBlue) March 13, 2021
The Spun: Did you consider changing your number once the NFL loosened its rules?
MP: To be honest, I didn’t think about it [laughing].
The Spun: What are you hoping to accomplish during your second season?
MP: I’m trying to double or even triple every single stat I had from my rookie season.
The Spun: What about the Colts wide receiver room, what can we expect from you guys?
MP: You can expect a room of guys who are very diverse in what they can do. We have fast receivers, strong receivers, route specialists, etc. We are very diverse in what we bring to the table.
Continuing the cycle. 🔄 pic.twitter.com/v8b7xEQWg5
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) April 8, 2021
The Spun: Do you ever get asked about fantasy football from your fans?
MP: The funny thing is my brother just did a fantasy football draft. He drafted me and said if I don’t get him points he’ll drop me. People message me all the time like ‘Hey, should I pick you up in fantasy?’ It doesn’t bother me, so I just tell them yes [laughing].
The Spun: What is the ceiling for Michael Pittman?
MP: I don’t like to cap myself because I feel like I haven’t really shown half of what I can do, but I have lofty goals. I want to be an All-Pro, make the Pro Bowl and win a Super Bowl. There are other goals too and I can go on for hours, but those are the main goals I want to accomplish.
Just a quick reminder that Michael Pittman Jr. put up 100+ yards in his first career playoff game while primarily being shadowed by an All-Pro cornerback.
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) June 18, 2021
Over the past two decades, the Colts have produced a plethora of great wideouts, such as Marvin Harrison, T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne. If Pittman can actually double his rookie year numbers this fall, he might be next in line for the franchise.
You can read more of The Spun’s interviews with athletes and media stars here.