Perhaps in contradiction of his many detractors, the biggest issue with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell is not what he does on the field, but rather how much time he spends off it.
Scratch that. It does have to do with what he does on the field, but because, perhaps, he should not even be on the field, because he is so frequently injured. The 30-year-old safety known for extremely family-friendly meltdowns on the field has been unable to keep injuries away simply through polite manners.
We should know more later today, but it looks like the veteran could be missing his third time of the season with an injury, having already missed the team’s last game. He suffered an Achilles injury in the Steelers’ first game after the bye, and yet was listed as questionable to play four days later. A week and a half on, he may still not be ready to play again.
Which, apparently, means more of Robert Golden, who started in Mitchell’s place against the Titans, even though it was J.J. Wilcox who started for him earlier in the season when he was out with an injury. Each of them ended up recording an interception in their start, while Mitchell is still looking for his first of the season.
The Steelers have struggled to contain the big plays down the field since his most recent injury, after they had gone through the first five games of the season without allowing any reception of 40 yards or more.
In fact, as I have written about earlier, it has been a growing trend, as they have allowed two in each of their past three games, and now seven on the season. Of course, getting Mitchell back is not going to single-handedly solve that problem, but the evidence suggests that it could help.
Still, it would be inadvisable to rush him along, which has been his tendency previously in his career. He spent a good deal of time during his first three seasons with the Steelers playing through a variety of injuries, which have affected his performance, when it would have been more beneficial to have him rest—if only they were more comfortable in their backups.
While they have tried two different players to start in his absence, it’s unclear whether that is an equal vote of confidence or a search for a viable solution. Both Golden and Wilcox have had their issues while on the field, in truth.
One might be inclined to say that this would be a game to let him rest, facing Brett Hundley at quarterback, whose Packers were just shut out. But the matchup shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, Green Bay was able to move down the field, with turnovers damning them in the end. They still have an impressive trio of wide receivers.