Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell healthy, ready to go
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mike Mitchell didn’t play in the Steelers’ fourth preseason game against the Panthers on Thursday.
Typically, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But it was the first time Mitchell has missed a practice or a game since the spring.
Mitchell has been beset with injuries since signing with the Steelers before the 2014 season. Although the starting strong safety never missed a game in his short Steelers career, it has been a rough go of the past two years.
This year — so far — it has been great for Mitchell when it comes to his health.
“I don’t think camp could’ve gone any better for me,” Mitchell said. “I came into camp in great shape, and I didn’t miss a day of practice. I have been out there every day with my guys. I joke with Coach Tomlin a lot, but it was really important to practice every day.
“It wasn’t something that I was able to do since I’ve been here. I wanted to have a good camp and come into the season ready to play.”
Mitchell has battled through a groin injury that required surgery his first year and followed that last season with hand, ankle and shoulder issues. He had offseason shoulder surgery that was supposed to keep him out of spring practices, but he was able to participate near the end of the sessions.
Mitchell followed that by taking part in every training camp practice and the first three preseason games, in which he played 65 total snaps.
“It is hard to get into a rhythm when you aren’t out there,” he said. “ I have always said that I am not a practice player but when you aren’t getting the reps, it is hard to go out there full speed when you come from nothing. I have the confidence knowing that I got the reps, my body is in shape and I am strong.”
On the heels of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting during the singing of the national anthem last week, the Steelers and Panthers didn’t follow his path Thursday.
All players stood for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but there were at least two fans in the stands behind the Steelers bench who did not stand.
DeAngelo Williams, who played nine years with the Carolina Panthers, was the honorary captain for the Steelers.
Williams is the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher.
Although the majority of the starters did not play against the Panthers, they did dress.
However, there were a number of players who did not make the trip, including wide receiver Markus Wheaton, offensive linemen Cody Wallace and Marcus Gilbert, fullback Roosevelt Nix, safety Shamarko Thomas, defensive end Cam Heyward and linebacker Bud Dupree.
Tight end Paul Lang did not dress.
The Panthers have a ceremonial “Keep Pounding” drum they bang before every home game.
On Thursday, at least one person doing the “pounding” had local ties.
Montour graduate Anthony Marks, along with a handful of teammates for the national champion Coastal Carolina baseball team, had the honor of banging the drum.
Mark Kaboly is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.