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Ex-Buc Pittman adjusting to his role in Denver

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Michael Pittman arrived in Denver, he told the coaches he would do whatever was asked of him.

Little did he know they would take him at his word.

After spending the past decade as an NFL tailback, Pittman has been moved to fullback for the Broncos.

The former Buc isn't thrilled with the move, but he knows this: He would rather be a lead blocker than a sideline spectator or even a former player.

So, he is biting his lip and looking for someone to hit.

"You can't be a one-dimensional player. A lot of one-dimensional players will leave a lot faster than the guy who can do a lot of different things," Pittman said. "I can run, I can catch, and I can block. I think that's the reason why the Broncos brought me over here."

Pittman, 33, leads the team in carries in the preseason, but that is mostly a product of injuries.

At 6 feet and 225 pounds, Pittman isn't your prototypical fullback.

"I'm not a natural fullback, but at the same time, I'm stronger than most fullbacks," he said. "Physically, I go in there and I can slam into a linebacker. But I'm really a runner, that's what I do, coming out of the backfield and catch some balls.

"But I'll do whatever my coaches ask me to do. I won't complain about it. I'll just go out there and just do my job. Pound for pound, I'm probably one of the strongest guys on the team."

And that is why St. Petersburg's Andre Hall, one of three young tailbacks expected to share snaps this season along with Selvin Young and Anthony Alridge, loves running behind Pittman.

"Fullbacks are usually slower. They take longer to read. Pittman flies right in there, he hits whoever," said Hall, a former USF standout who is in his second year in the league. "That's my type. I like somebody that's just going to go all out."

Pittman, who spent the past six seasons in Tampa Bay, hasn't tapped into the knowledge of former teammate Mike Alstott about lead blocking. "We talk about other things," Pittman said.

Despite his insistence that he will do what he is asked, it's easy to tell Pittman would rather be getting the handoffs himself.

"I'll get in where I fit in," said Pittman, who has rushed for 5,307 yards and 21 touchdowns in 143 career games with the Bucs and Cardinals. "It's just an adjustment for me. It's just another step in my career. This is my 11th year, and I'm excited to do a lot of new things. So, like I said, if the coach asks me to do it, I just go out there and I have fun doing it."

So, what does he enjoy about playing fullback?

"Well, probably just catching passes," Pittman said. "I really don't like lead blocking too much. But I go in there and I'll do it. Just catching passes. It's a mismatch, me against a linebacker one-on-one. I can really take advantage of a linebacker.

"And physically, that's a mismatch, too. Because physically they can't cover me. So, there's a lot of things I can bring to the table in the passing game. So, I will say just really coming out of the backfield."

And doing whatever is asked of him, without a complaint or a smile.

Ex-Buc Pittman adjusting to his role in Denver 08/21/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 5:00pm]

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