Steelers Preparing Safety Net In The Event Mike Mitchell Does Not Play

The Pittsburgh Steelers only have two safeties on their 53-man roster are at a close approximation of 100 percent health. Neither of them are their two starters, and one of them has only been on the team for a few days. That is not the ideal way to enter the regular season, but we should soon know more about whether or not it matters.

While there does not appear to be any consternation over whether or not second-year safety Sean Davis is going to be ready to play in the regular season opener on Sunday, Head Coach Mike Tomlin did admit that veteran starter Mike Mitchell is somebody that he would classify as questionable to play, ‘at this juncture’.

Mitchell suffered a lower body injury that I believe Ed Bouchette recently classified as a hamstring injury within the first few days of training camp, and he did not practice again until on Monday, missing the entirety of the preseason.

While a player with his experience does not need a lot of snaps to get ready for the season in his own regard, it is of course beneficial for starters to get time working together, and that is especially the case with Mitchell and Davis, who have hardly spent much time practicing together at all, since the latter spent much of the spring rehabilitating from shoulder surgery.

In the unlikely (?) event that Mitchell does not play on Sunday, it will be interesting to see what approach the Steelers will take to the position. While Robert Golden has run with the starters for most of the year due to Davis and Mitchell both missing quite a bit of time, the Steelers did just bring in a safety who has starting experience—and starting potential.

It is of course possible to bring in a safety right before the season starts and plug him into the lineup. That is how the Steelers were able to trade for J.J. Wilcox, because the Buccaneers signed T.J. Ward to start for them, making the former expendable, and thus available.

Reportedly, the former Cowboy did spend some time working with the first-team defense, potentially in a variety of capacities, and it would not be surprising at all to see him on the field on defense in some form or fashion, even if it is in their quarter sub-package with three cornerbacks and three safeties on the field.

The broader issue of potential communication concerns in the secondary is one that should be addressed more broadly, but it is one that should be of concern. With neither starting safety seeing a ton of time working with the defense, and having a new starter in Joe Haden plugging into the lineup without even preseason work, there is ample opportunity for mental errors. Plus in another brand new player, and the odds of miscommunication shoot up even further.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • george

    Why not play Davis at FS since he has more speed and athleticism than any other safety on the team? Mitchell is more suited to SS and so is Wilcox.

  • colingrant

    He needs to sit. The opponent is Cleveland. Just get to 100%. I have to admit though, If I’m being paid 100-200 K per game, I would feel inclined to play even at 50%, notwithstanding chancing career shortening or ending damage. Getting paid and not playing would bother me tremendously. I know it sounds stupid, but much to the chagrin of my agent, I’d consider returning some money. I couldn’t look the owner in the eye getting paid millions and not earning it.

  • francesco

    I know we are asking Hilton to do all kinds short of kicking field goals but it seems to me that he can be a good part time safety.

  • John Phillips

    Sign that millionaire vet from Aliquippa
    What’s his name Elvis island?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Does Mike Mitchell ever miss games for us?

    Like him or not, he has a sort of Ronnie Lott mentality to showing up.

    And yes, it’s the Browns and a rookie QB, so I personally am on the fence. Hamstrings are lingerers. Heck, this one is already clearly a bit nagging. Personally, I tell Mike to sit and we make sure he’s 100%. But if I had money on it, I’d bet Mitchell plays.

  • RMSteeler

    When I first glanced at the picture at the top, I thought, Mike has a man-bun? lol

  • mhurk

    I often wonder the same, Steelers seem to like to play SS’s at the FS position and vice versa.

  • Matt Manzo

    This feels like a 5th preseason game!

  • Matt Manzo

    Seems like a perfect game for Wilcox to cut his teeth on!

  • nutty32

    Have no special information & just a hunch, but Mitchell is going to come out on fire and play his butt off until the game is out of hand. Mitchell just loves the drama and attention of acting a hero; bit of an egomaniac. This fool actually told steelers fans to “not get on the bandwagon” in the early part of his first year; definitely a narcissists to think he’s bigger than steeler nation.

  • SilverSteel

    If we knew this, why did we dump Danger? Makes no sense at all.

  • Doug McFee

    No you wouldn’t. You’d cash that check with a Cheshire Cat grin on your grill. Stop it. Just stop!

  • Doug McFee

    We’re playing the Browns. They’re playing a rookie QB. C’mon now, relax!

  • razaard2

    Davis is a beast at SS, he does a lot of damage near the scrimmage, Polamalu-Style. Mitchell is a hard hitter with range, a traditional FS in the mold of Ryan Clark

  • razaard2

    That’s probably the situation out there. Mitchell wants to play, coaches want him to sit
    It’s basically preseason anyways

  • afrazier9

    I know these are the Browns but I think they are out to prove something believe me. Sammy probably spilled the beans and gave them the kryptonite to beat the defense. I still worry that we don’t take the seriously as we do all sorry teams and they find away to make the game interesting. Not once have we been at full capacity so this might be the best time to steel one from us. Tomlin is famous for not having the team up for sorry opponents

  • Darth Blount 47

    Yeah, it’s truly not a situation where I’m looking for a reason to denigrate the Browns, but if we can’t beat them without Mike Mitchell, we suddenly have far more serious problems as a whole. There is no way they should be able to keep up with our scoring Offense. Bad road Ben or not.

  • Doug McFee

    Ole Sammy Sausage never mastered the Steelers playbook. What makes you think hes even read through the Browns? Glad he’s gone!

  • Dshoff

    If Mitchell is healthy he should play, but if the Steelers get out to a big lead then he should get yanked to relax. Oh, I forgot, Tomlin still makes those decisions. 🙂

  • Dshoff

    Yeah, I can’t believe how lightly everyone is taking this first game. Doesn’t everybody know how well we do against bad teams?? 🙂

  • Matthew Marczi

    He is injured. He wouldn’t be able to help this situation from the bench.

  • John Pennington

    If Mitchell is hurt then why isn’t he listed as being hurt.Why get in trouble with the league.Can Dangerfield come back until Mitclell is healed.

  • AndyR34

    Do you actually follow the Steelers of SD?

  • ahj_2000

    I could play safety agaisnt the Browns and we would still win by 20.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    ill take wilcox over golden.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Me too. Miscommunications be damned. We know what we’ve got with Golden. ST player and poor in coverage. Use the Browns and the cupcakes of the schedule to get the kinks out with Haden, Wilcox, Hilton.

  • SilverSteel

    Yes, but opens him up for being picked up.

  • Matthew Marczi

    They don’t seem to be all that worried about that, so after acquiring Wilcox I don’t know if they even have any intention of re-signing him, at least to the 53-man roster. Golden’s salary will become guaranteed on Sunday so it wouldn’t make much sense to release him after, and he’s obviously not getting released before.

  • SilverSteel


  • Conserv_58

    I’m more concerned about Ben’s record against rookie QB’s. He lost to two last season.