Injured Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman rolled into the locker room — yes, rolled ¬— on Thursday.
Pittman bought a Travel Pal at a local Pep Boys earlier this week so he could put away the crutches after doctors put his right ankle in a hard cast. He decked out his new ride with a Buccaneers foam finger on the antenna and his number — 32 — on the back of the season.
He even got some sympathy when he rode into a local Publix supermarket.
"Everybody knew who I was," Pittman said. "Of course, with my number on the back and my foam finger that wasn't hard to figure out."
He appreciates the mobility …
"But I want to put this thing in the closet as fast as I can and get back on the field," Pittman said.
Pittman will be out six to eight weeks with an ankle sprain he suffered last Sunday against Indianapolis. There is no bone damage, Pittman said, but there is ligament damage.
Still, he believes he is a quick healer and can beat the standard recovery period.
"This is an unusual situation for me," Pittman said, who has never missed a game to injury in five seasons in Tampa Bay. "I've never really been hurt. This is definitely not my type of deal, but I'm going to do whatever it takes to get back. I want to come back fresh and help them make a run for the playoffs."
Pittman told reporters that he thinks he can be back by the Atlanta game on Nov. 18, which would be six weeks from now, which is the low end of the recovery period.
With Pittman injured, Earnest Graham will be the starting tailback on Sunday against Tennessee. Pittman said his faith in Graham won't force him to try and come back too soon from the injury.
"I think a 100 percent Earnest Graham is better than a 70 percent Michael Pittman," he said. "I wouldn't want to do that to my team."
Pittman should get his cast off on Monday and them begin rehabilitating the injury shortly thereafter.
Pittman injured the ankle in the second quarter of Tampa Bay's 33-14 loss to the Colts. He left the game on a cart and had the expression of a player that thought his season was over.
Pittman thought that might have been the case. In fact, as awkwardly as he came down on the ankle, he thought it might look something like Paris Warren's dislocated ankle suffered against Houston on Aug. 30.
"I heard a little pop in my ankle, and the way it (Warren's) was bent and twisted that's how I thought it was going to look," Pittman said. "That's why I looked down at my leg. I was trying to make sure it was straight. When I tried to walk on it, I couldn't feel my toes, so I sat down, and right when I sat down about two seconds later I felt a bunch of pain in my ankle."
Pittman said the fact that he would be out of the lineup for the next several weeks bothered him more than the pain.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.