Entering his third season with the Black & Gold, safety Mike Mitchell isn’t shying away from his new leadership role.
“Me and ‘Deuce-Deuce’ (cornerback William Gay, No. 22) will definitely have to take a big-time leadership role, but I’ve been asking for this for at least two years now,” Mitchell said. “‘Coach T’ (head coach Mike Tomlin) is finally going to let me do that.”
The Steelers need some veteran leadership on the back-end. The 2016 NFL Draft saw them draft two defensive backs in the first two-rounds, CB Artie Burns in the first, and S/CB Sean Davis in the second. And don’t forget about CB Senquez Golson, who the Steelers drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft. Golson, didn’t see a single snap last season because of injury.
“I’m in my third year now in the system so it’s really something I look forward to. We’re talking about how (defensive end) Cam (Heyward) brought along (defensive end Stephon) Tuitt , that’s how I plan to try to help bring around our young guys.”
Mitchell understands that this kind of leadership is not given to you based on contract size, or how “elite” you are.
“It’s something that you earn,” he said. “You definitely don’t do it as the new guy. I was kind of more silent my first year and kinda tried to do it by example last year, I tried to speak up a little bit more.”
After the second-round of this year’s draft, head coach said that they’ll use Sean Davis as a SS (strong safety), which would mean that eventually, he’ll be right alongside Mitchell.
“But now, talking to the leadership, it’s my time, it’s my group. Me and Will Gay will be in control. We’re the oldest guys in the room, that’s expected. I’m in my third year of this system, I pretty much have it down. And now I’m ready to really mentor and try to pass on the knowledge that I have to our younger players, because that’s what it’s about being a Steeler.”
“The way we do business here positions are always won and lost,” Mitchell said. “Some positions could be won and lost week to week, depending on how tight the competition is. We always have a lot of competition here because we have so many good players on this roster.”
“I can honestly say I played for two other organizations; man, we’re deep at every position. If you’re not on it, there’s a young, hungry guy right there ready to take it from you.”
“I think it creates a good, competitive nature within the group, within the team. Everyone’s working every day to try to sharpen our sword because we always have the battle coming. That’s why it’s important for me and Will Gay to really try to help these guys along. I’ve been spending a lot of time and I’ve been in the building with Sean, just trying to bring him a long as fast as we can, something I wish I would have had when I was in Oakland.”
“That’s how we do it here in Pittsburgh, everyone mentors each other. When I first got here I had (safety) Troy (Polamalu) and (cornerback) Ike (Taylor), it doesn’t get any better than that. And then last year I had Will Allen really helping bring me the rest of the way along. And that’s what I want to do for these guys.”
“As far as their development and how fast they grow, I really think that’s up to them,” Mitchell said. “How much time are they really willing to put in to perfect their craft? Hopefully they’re watching how we work and how we study and they’ll gain those same attributes.”
It’s refreshing to see that our young defensive backs will have two humble voices in their ears. I can’t wait to see how our new secondary will progress.
The 2016 season couldn’t come soon enough.