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Mike Mitchell Deserves Credit For Helping Young Secondary Learn The Ropes

Mike Mitchell is known for his big hits. And his celebrations. And yes, sometimes, his missed tackles. But leadership should join that list. He’s taken the young Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary under his wing to ease their transition into the NFL.

We’ve already seen Sean Davis gives the Steelers’ safety credit.

“He has helped me so much…I am thankful for him,” Davis said last month.

Artie Burns echoed those thoughts in a sitdown with Missi Matthews on the Steelers’ site.

“The way he prepares,” Burns said of Mitchell. “He’s probably one of the best in our room in preparing. I took a lot from him. His experiences he’s been through…he’s got so much wisdom he gave me. That’s why we lean on him during the game. Most of the time I communicate with him because I rely on him.”

Specifically, Burns said Mitchell gave him advice on how to deal with injury. Burns missed most of training camp with a quad/ankle injury, a tough blow for an anxious rookie looking to get on the field as quickly as possible. Mitchel coached him on the sidelines, a man who deals with injury seemingly every year, and helped him through the process.

“Mike Mitch, he helped me out. When I first got injured, he was like, just take it easy. It’s a long season. But when it’s your time, be ready.”

Burns admitted he felt “down” right after getting injured. But heeding Mitchell’s advice, Burns was able to make it back out there for the final preseason game and the regular season slate. He didn’t rush the injury, as Bud Dupree did, costing him the majority of the season. There were ups and downs during Burns’ rookie year but all the reps were valuable and he’s significantly better off for it entering Year Two.

That’s part of what makes Mitchell valuable. His impact is felt on the field, literally, by unsuspecting wide receivers, but off it too. He’s a leader, a great communicator with experience around young secondaries. Mitchell’s NFL career has been nothing but rocky currents; different safeties, different defensive coordinators, and young cornerbacks. Too often, that’s overlooked.

Mitchell is the drummer of the Steelers’ secondary. He’s always there, keeping the beat, setting the rhythm for the rest of the band.

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