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PFW Spins: Trotter, Pittman, Couch


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June 6, 2003

Trotter sees first action since knee injury; Couch has edge in Cleveland; Pittman’s troubles leave Bucs in limbo

ProFootballWeekly.com asks associate editor Eric Edholm for his thoughts on the hottest topics around the NFL:

Trotter sees first action since knee injury

Redskins MLB Jeremiah Trotter is back on the field. Trotter participated in a practice at Redskins Park Thursday, which was the most on-field activity he has had suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a loss to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day last season. He has since undergone surgery to repair the knee and slowly has worked his way back into playing form. Trotter was a regular at offseason practices, but he was kept out of drills before yesterday. Trotter told the media he had "no doubt" he would be ready to play at full speed when training camp opens July 28. The Redskins' defense ranked fifth in the league last season, but the losses of DT Daryl Gardener and DL Carl Powell as free agents means there will be more pressure on Trotter to make quick strides.

PFW: How big a season is this for Trotter?

Edholm: It is a very big season, not only because of the team’s defensive losses up front but also because of all the new additions. Trotter struggled initially in Marvin Lewis’ system last season and was just hitting his stride when he was knocked out for the year with the ACL injury. With Lewis gone, new defensive coordinator George Edwards has vowed to keep the system and terminology very similar, so Trotter’s learning curve should be able to bend toward the positive very quickly. With his knowledge of the system being strong, the only question now is how will his body respond? All signs point toward good, especially is you believe Trotter’s words and look at the timetable — he appears right on schedule. The additions of DLs Regan Upshaw and Brandon Noble and S Matt Bowen make Trotter a more important cog in this defense. The pressure will not only be on him, but also on fellow LBs Jessie Armstead and LaVar Arrington.

Browns’ Davis now says QB job is Couch’s to lose

Browns QB Kelly Holcomb might have thrown for 429 yards in the Browns' 36-33 playoff loss at Pittsburgh last season, but head coach Butch Davis — who has refused to name a favorite between Holcomb and incumbent Tim Couch up until now — has reversed fields, essentially saying the job is Couch’s to lose. All offseason Davis had refused to name his starting quarterback, had remained non-committal on the issue, but Davis told reporters “(that) it's fair to say that Tim has not really lost the job.'' Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians appeared to support Davis’ notion that Couch has the edge. A former No. 1 overall pick, Couch has started 51 career games, including 14 last season, but has had an up-and-down career to this point. Holcomb has three career starts. Davis said the starter would be decided by the time the Browns visit Detroit for a preseason game on Aug. 23.


PFW: Is Davis making the right move?

Edholm: I think he is. Couch is the big-money investment, and the team does not want to hurt his confidence with a QB battle before training camp. The team is obviously happy with the way Couch has worked this offseason, improving his conditioning as well as his mental preparation. The uncertainty of the job has motivated Couch, and Davis and his staff are cognizant of this. Expect Couch to approach his career-best numbers next season. And Davis, smartly, has left the door open in case Couch struggles and/or Holcomb is just too impressive to leave on the bench. If that happens — Davis referred to it as the contender knocking out the champ — then there will be no harm nor foul. Let the best man win, but for now, the Browns will be sticking with the right man.

Pittman’s legal troubles leave Bucs wondering

The Buccaneers have allowed RB Michael Pittman to participate in practice the past three days despite his most recent arrest, but the two felony charges of aggravated assault he faces leaves his future with the team in serious doubt. Pittman, 27, must go back to Arizona to face the charges and deal with his possible probation revocation, stemming from an earlier misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, which could lead to jail time. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to five to 15 years for each count. The NFL previously suspended Pittman for one game when he played for the Cardinals. If he is convicted again, Pittman would face a much worse suspension from the league. Pittman refused to comment on the situation after all three practices he attended. Tampa Bay says it will let the legal process deal with Pittman and allow him to practice in the interim.

PFW: What are the Bucs’ plans at running back?

Edholm: They will wait and see, of course, but the team has to be concerned about its depth at running back. It signed Terry Kirby, who has not started a game since 1999 and has never started more than 10 games in a season in his career. Although Kirby is a fine receiver, he is merely a part-timer; in 11 seasons, he has just 761 rushing attempts and 39 starts, never rushing for more than 559 yards (with the 49ers in 1996). But he does add championship experience and character — something Pittman obviously lacks — to a team that is becoming a perennial winner. But more must be done to protect their losses if Pittman is convicted and/or released, and we are not talking about Morgan Kane. One possibility is Travis Stephens, a third-round pick last year out of Tennessee who could get a real chance in camp to shine.

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Originally posted by panel

I think K Mitch is a little under rated.

I think K Mitch is A LOT under rated. Overall, I thought he played MLB better than Trotter did last year. Trotter was a BIG disappointment last year and IMO if he struggles again this year and has a lackluster season, I think we should cut him and give K Mitch the starting spot that he deserves and has earned by sticking with this team through thick and thin, mostly thin.

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First of all Trotter was 4th on the team in tackles while playing about 2/3rds of a season. That's pretty impressive

2nd, the salary cap implications(i.e. dead money from Trotter's salary bonus - 7mil I believe) make that a piss poor financial decision and will not happen. (Actually, now that Vinny is running the show it could happen!:doh: )

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Mitchell is a fine backup. To suggest that he can MLB as capably as Trotter is kind of absurd, though.

Trotter is at his best in attack mode, though. To have him be a read and react guy is wasteful. That is what he was being asked to do. Still, he was adjusting and coming on when he blew out his ACL.

Mitchell came in and performed adequately. It may be a more fitting style for him. But, Trotter is bigger, faster, more dynamic, younger, and has better instincts. Other than that, they're the same player. ;)

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Originally posted by mphilips16

I think K Mitch is A LOT under rated. Overall, I thought he played MLB better than Trotter did last year. Trotter was a BIG disappointment last year and IMO if he struggles again this year and has a lackluster season, I think we should cut him and give K Mitch the starting spot that he deserves and has earned by sticking with this team through thick and thin, mostly thin.

Trotter is the man at MLB until injuries/performance proves otherwise. I do think that K. Mitch woud be able to start for a couple of the lower tier teams, which makes his re-signing as a backup MLB that much more important to our success in '03.

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Carl Powell was a pleasant surprise, a player that seemed to be a questionable roster candidate that came in and made a contribution. What he was not is an answer full-time at DE or DT.

What made him effective was exactly what makes you NOT want to sign him to a larger contract...........he excels when he is only asked to play 10-15 snaps a game.

At 6'2 and 272 Powell has problems going four quarters against a quality opponent. Evidently the Bengals agree as they penciled Carl in as the starter but have continued to seek depth at the position, a player that could perhaps be rotated with Powell.

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