Michael Pittman Jr.

Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. Won’t Play Sunday

The Colts will have to take on the Jaguars tomorrow without their top wideout. The team announced that wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has been downgraded to out for tomorrow’s game.

Pittman suffered a quad injury during practice on Wednesday and sat out the rest of the week. It doesn’t sound like the injury is a long-term concern, and there’s a chance he’ll play next weekend against the Chiefs.

The 2020 second-round pick made a name for himself in 2021 after finishing with 1,082 receiving yards and six touchdowns. It didn’t take long for him to build chemistry with Matt Ryan. In Week 1, Pittman hauled in nine of his 13 targets for 121 yards and one touchdown.

The rest of the Colts wide receivers were limited to a combined eight receptions last weekend, so Indy will need someone to step up tomorrow against Jacksonville. The rest of the Colts receiving depth chart consists of Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan, and Dezmon Patmon. Receiver Alec Pierce will also miss tomorrow’s game, so there’s a good chance Indy promotes a fifth receiver from the practice squad (a grouping that includes Ethan Fernea and Keke Coutee).

In addition to Pittman and Pierce, linebacker Shaquille Leonard has also been ruled out for tomorrow’s game.

Colts Activate WR Michael Pittman Jr.

The Colts will receive a boost to their passing game this weekend. The team announced this morning that they’ve activated wideout Michael Pittman Jr. from injured reserve. To make room, the team has waived receiver Daurice Fountain.

Following a standout career at USC that saw him earn a pair of first team All-Pac-12 honors, Pittman was selected in the second round (No. 34) of this past year’s draft. He appeared in each of Indy’s first three games (including one start), hauling in nine receptions for 73 yards. He also led all Colts receivers in snaps during their Week 2 win over the Vikings.

The 23-year-old was placed on IR in early October after being diagnosed with compartment syndrome in his calf. The rookie should slide back into a depth chart that’s currently led by T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal.

Fountain was a fifth-round pick by the Colts back in 2018. He was limited to only a single game during his first two years in the NFL, but he’s seen time in four games this season, hauling in a pair of catches for 23 yards.

Colts Activate Trey Burton From IR

Trey Burton will don a Colts game uniform for the first time Sunday. The Colts activated the tight end from IR Saturday and moved Michael Pittman Jr. to the injured list.

Indianapolis signed Burton this offseason but saw him run into more injury trouble. A calf strain during camp resulted in the former Eagles and Bears tight end missing the Colts’ first three games.

The seventh-year pass catcher dealt with injuries last season, leading to his Chicago stay ending after two years. He underwent sports hernia surgery in 2019 and ended up on IR during the season because of a calf malady. Burton caught just 14 passes for 84 yards last season. However, in 16 Bears games in 2018, the former “Philly Special” passer caught 54 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns. Burton will join Jack Doyle and the emerging Mo Alie-Cox in Indianapolis’ suddenly crowded tight end corps.

The Colts will need their tight end group healthy; their receiving corps has absorbed some key losses. Pittman underwent surgery after developing compartment syndrome in his calf. The surgery went well, however, and the rookie wideout could be back when eligible (Week 8, following the Colts’ Week 7 bye). For the next two games, however, Philip Rivers will be down Pittman and slot target Parris Campbell. The latter will likely miss more time than Pittman, having suffered MCL and PCL damage.

Colts’ Michael Pittman Jr. Has Leg Surgery

The Colts are down another receiver. Indianapolis rookie Michael Pittman Jr. developed compartment leg syndrome in his calf after their game Sunday and had surgery last night, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

Luckily it looks like it was caught early, as this can be quite serious. As former NFL team doctor David Chao described in a tweet, it’s a “medical emergency” that causes compression of the nerves due to blood swelling that needs to be relieved quickly by surgery. The injury happened during their Week 3 game, but symptoms didn’t pop up until later.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Colts head coach Frank Reich declined to put a timetable on Pittman’s return. Rapoport however had more details, writing that Pittman is expected to return the game after the Colts’ bye week, which would have him on track for a Week 8 return. The 34th overall pick of this past April’s draft, Pittman was thrust into a sizable role right away.

With Parris Campbell on the shelf with a knee issue, Pittman was going to be counted on even more. He had six targets after Campbell went down against Minnesota, and started Indy’s Week 3 game against the Jets. The Colts will now rely even more on Zach Pascal behind T.Y. Hilton moving forward.m

Colts Sign Round 2 WR Michael Pittman Jr.

The Colts have made more headway in signing their draft picks than most teams, and they agreed to terms with their top 2020 choice Monday.

Michael Pittman Jr. signed his four-year rookie contract this afternoon. The slot deal for No. 34 overall will be worth $8.6MM. The USC product moves the Colts closer to having their full draft class signed. Only third-round pick Julian Blackmon is unsigned, and due to vaguer contract language, third-rounders’ deals often cause holdups.

A second-generation NFLer, Pittman will be expected to play an integral role from the outset. The Colts were in need of more help at wideout beyond T.Y. Hilton. The team has now used second-round picks on receivers in back-to-back years, with the Pittman selection following Parris Campbell‘s 2019 arrival. Campbell missed much of his rookie season because of injuries.

Pittman broke through as a senior in 2019, hauling in 101 passes for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns. Frank Reich was a key part of the effort to land Pittman, who was the eighth receiver off the board in a loaded draft at the position. With Hilton entering a contract year and set to turn 31 in November, the Colts are better set up long-term with Pittman in the fold.

Here is how the Colts’ signing efforts look as of June 15:

2-34: Michael Pittman, WR (USC): Signed
2-41: Jonathan Taylor, RB (Wisconsin): Signed
3-85: Julian Blackmon, S (Utah)
4-122: Jacob Eason, QB (Washington): Signed
5-149: Danny Pinter, G (Ball State): Signed
6-193: Robert Windsor, DT (Penn State): Signed
6-211: Isaiah Rodgers, CB (UMass): Signed
6-212: Dezmon Patmon, WR (Washington State): Signed
6-213: Jordan Glasgow, S (Michigan): Signed

AFC South Notes: Texans, Titans, Pittman

Patrick Mahomes is expected to become the NFL’s highest-paid player — perhaps by a significant margin — at some point between now and the start of the 2021 season. The Chiefs’ eventual negotiations may change because of the player picked two spots after him in the 2017 draft. The Texans have begun talks with Deshaun Watson, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle threw out a monster price range for the franchise’s cornerstone player. A Watson extension could range from $40-$42MM per year, Wilson writes. While it is not certain where Houston stands in talks with its fourth-year quarterback, Laremy Tunsil was able to move the tackle market from $18MM per year to $22MM AAV. Watson surpassing $40MM annually would be a bigger jump for QB salaries.

Watson, 24, seems a lock to surpass Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-per-year value. But with the quarterback market moving north gradually in this era — albeit with greater acceleration in the past two-plus years — Watson’s extension raising the NFL salary ceiling to this degree would represent a staggering markup that would affect other teams’ negotiations. Such a player-friendly agreement would also come at an uncertain time. With it not certain fans will be in stadiums, the 2021 salary cap could go down instead of making the once-expected $10MM-plus climb.

Shifting first to some staff updates, here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Titans team president Steve Underwood is stepping down, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. After 40 years with the organization, which included the move from Houston in the mid-’90s, he’ll remain on board as a special advisor to owner Amy Adams Strunk. Underwood began his tenure as a legal counsel to Houston Oilers founder Bud Adams and played a key role in the franchise’s relocation to Nashville. Underwood retired previously, stepping away from the team in 2011, but returned in 2015.
  • Once NFL teams return to their respective facilities, the atmosphere will be different because of COVID-19. On that note, the Texans are hiring a hygiene coordinator. It is not certain who will fill this newly created position, but Wilson notes he or she will be in charge with overseeing the conditions of the team’s practice facility and play a key role in coordinating the cleanliness of NRG Stadium.
  • The Colts had a specific type of wide receiver in mind when they selected Michael Pittman Jr. out of USC with the 34th overall pick, and Frank Reich targeted the USC wideout well in advance of the draft. “We wanted a big body, a guy who is physically tough,” Reich said in a Colts.com video. “A big body who would do the dirty work and block, make contested catches, get 50-50 balls. (Pittman) showed that on tape. From the first time I watched him, I loved him.” Pittman is 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds. He is expected to start opposite the 5-10 T.Y. Hilton. Reich compared Pittman to former Philip Rivers Chargers target Vincent Jackson, who was 6-5.