We figure to have a good chance of knowing later today whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell is going to play on Sunday after spending the first two days of practice this week listed as limited with an Achilles injury.
If he is a full participant, he most likely will play unless he has some sort of setback. If he remains limited, then chances are the coaching staff will hold him out of the game. And in that event, it will be interesting to see exactly what the Steelers do.
Earlier this year, Mitchell missed the first game of his career in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers used new safety J.J. Wilcox to start in his place. While Wilcox, the former third-round pick of the Cowboys had 38 games’ worth of starting experience before being traded to the Steelers after the initial 53-man roster was made, it was still somewhat of a surprising decision.
He had only been with the team for less than a month by the time that he started the fourth game of the season, but he had already been rotating with Mitchell prior to that in order to take some of the burden off of the veteran as he worked his way back from a hamstring injury.
And yet, against the Lions, when Mitchell left that game early in the second half with what the team has called an Achilles injury, it wasn’t Wilcox who came on, but rather Robert Golden. And it wasn’t because Wilcox was injured or anything, because he was playing on special teams, and played a snap when Sean Davis came off the field for a play.
So what does this mean exactly? Is Golden now the top backup? Is he specifically Mitchell’s backup? Was it just a matchup that they liked against the Lions? In other words, if Mitchell doesn’t play on Sunday in Indianapolis, who is going to start next to Davis? Could they consider rotating?
It’s not as though rotating is new. They rotated Golden and Davis right around this time last year as they transitioned from the former to the latter as the starter at strong safety. It’s really not clear why there has seemingly been inconsistency on the depth chart here.
Said Davis, “me and Rob G work well—and J.J. too; even though he is new, J.J. is a contributor as well”, according to Chris Adamski. “We are always talking and on the same page. So I feel like all four of us safeties all have a good understanding for each other and communicate well and play well with each other”.
Meanwhile, many seem to be convinced that none of the Steelers’ safeties are good, with Davis being the only one who even has the potential to be one. They all have their issues, of course, but the team is comfortable with the group, and it’s not wholly unjustified.