Veteran Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu might not be present for the first set of OTA practices of the 2014 season and there’s a good chance that he might not show up at all until the mandatory minicamp in June. However, just because Polamalu might not be on the field together with his new secondary counterpart, safety Mike Mitchell, who was signed to replace Ryan Clark during the offseason, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t already had contact with him.
According to Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times, Mitchell said that he was contacted by Polamalu after signing with the Steelers back in March and that not working with each other during the OTA practices shouldn’t hamper his ability to assimilate seamlessly into the defense.
“It’ll be fine,” Mitchell said, according to Bradford. “He’s a veteran. I’m a veteran. As long as we both know what we’re doing, there’s certain things we’ll be able to talk about. For now, I’m still learning the playbook, once I know what I’m doing then me and him can start working on changing something up if we choose to do that. As long as you know what you’re doing, you really don’t have to know the guy.”
Polamalu and Clark knew each other well thanks to the two playing alongside one another dating back to the 2006 season, but Mitchell showed last year during his one season with the Carolina Panthers that he could not only pick up a new defense quickly, but that he could play well in it in addition.
While Mitchell didn’t begin the 2013 season with the Panthers as a starter, he still managed to finish fourth on the team in total tackles with 66 and he tied with linebacker Luke Kuechly for the team lead in interceptions with four after replacing starting safety Charles Godfrey, who went down with a season-ending injury in the second game of the season.
As for Mitchell’s reputation of being a dirty player that is currently in the cross-hairs of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being fined at least five times in 2013 by the league, he believes that won’t be an issue for him, either, now that he’s with the Steelers.
“I’ve adjusted to the new rules changes and just looked forward to playing clean football and not getting fined this year,” said Mitchell, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “At the end of the day, they’re just trying to crack down on the rules, and I’ve adjusted my game to fit within those rules.”
With that portion of his game now seemingly under control, all that’s left now for the Mitchell is for him to adjust his game to Polamalu’s and he seems confident that he will.