By Jeff Berlinicke
Michael Pittman has fallen a long way in three years. From Super Bowl hero, to an NFL suspension, to losing his job as the main ball carrier for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittman is only hoping to keep his job while trying to get back into the good graces of Bucs coach Jon Gruden.
It won't be easy. Pittman ran the ball for yardage after returning from his league-induced suspension, but fumbled six times in 13 games, about five more than Gruden would normally tolerate.
Pittman was the Bucs carrier out of desperation last season. Fullback Mike Alstott's career had clearly started to wind down even though he will return this season, and newcomer Charles Garner was injured in the first game. The team lost all three games during Pittman's absence on the way to a 5-11 season.
It wasn't Pittman's amount of fumbles; it was the timing. Most came with the game on the line, and Gruden expressed frustration throughout the season.
With the fifth pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Bucs went for Carnell Williams, a dependable back out of Auburn and have pretty much given him the job to lose. So where does that leave Pittman and his hefty contract as well as a tainted reputation throughout the league?
Bucs running backs coach Art Valero, has been working hard with Pittman during spring mini-camps trying to get him to hold onto the football. Pittman, who spends an enormous time in the weight room working on his biceps, has been working harder on just holding onto the football. If he can find his way back into Gruden's grace, he could be invaluable as a third down option out of the backfield and also to spell Williams, especially when Williams hits the typical rookie wall around Week 10.
There's no reason Pittman can't be an asset to the team as the No. 2 back, but he'll have to hold onto the football if he wants to hold onto a roster spot.
Bucs Not Giving Up on Pittman
Bucs Blitz Top Stories
Wackiest moments from 2017 Pro BowlThe 2017 Pro Bowl was filled with the NFL's best, and also included some memorable and enjoyable moments.
Scout NFL Network01/30/2017
5 Veteran QBs Who Make Sense For DenverThe Broncos might bring in a veteran quarterback in 2017. Publisher Chad Jensen breaks down five veteran signal-callers who could make sense.
Mile High Huddle02/18/2017
The Case For Jay Cutler In DenverAll signs point to the Bears parting ways with quarterback Jay Cutler. Is there any reason the Broncos should consider him as a veteran option?
Mile High Huddle02/16/2017
Jets impending free agents, who to keep?The Jets have 13 players set to be free agents this offseason, but are any of them worth keeping?