It seems that for many people, the last thing that they want to hear about is another man’s groin. That apparently applies especially to Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell, who had offseason surgery to repair a pair of groin injuries that he played through during his first season with the team a year ago.
Because Mitchell was a high-value free agent signing (relative to the Steelers’ history), and because his play during his first season was regarded as a disappointment, there can be for some people no explanation for his play other than because it was a horrible mistake to sign him in the first place.
While it was known during the offseason last year that Mitchell had a groin injury—he began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list—it had not been revealed that the injury lasted well beyond that time period until after the season was over.
Mitchell told Teresa Varley yesterday that he wasn’t looking for an excuse, and that his father always told him “there is a reason for failure, but never an excuse”. That would apply well to his situation last season. While he was healthy enough to actually play in 17 games, including the postseason, he did acknowledge that the groin injuries “would affect the change of direction”.
But he also conceded that “there were plays I could have made being in a better position, having a better understanding of the defense”. Indeed, there are certainly ways that he can improve, that he must improve, that have nothing to do with injury-related mobility, as he readily acknowledges.
But it would be hard to deny that things get easier when you’re in less discomfort, which is how Mitchell spent much of his first season in Pittsburgh due to a pair of lingering groin injuries and the realization that the Steelers were counting on him to be out there on the field contributing, which is why he had among the highest snap counts on the defense.
These days, he’s not dealing with the chronic pain. Now it’s just soreness that is a byproduct of the post-surgery process that accompanies the breaking down of scar tissue. Mitchell said that he speaks to his surgeon regularly and that the soreness he experiences is normal during this process, and that it takes time, but that the progress being made has been good.
Tellingly, he told Varley that he wasn’t even able to do back squats following his groin injuries last season. It took him a year before he has been able to return to that workout, which he considers a “personal achievement”, a landmark in his recovery.
When it comes to his work on the field, there are still some more landmarks that he’s looking to track down in the black and gold. His first interception, for example, and his first sack. He did have two forced fumbles a year ago. With a better understanding of the defense and a healthier body, both Mitchell and the Steelers are expecting to see him take a big step forward in 2015.