CrossFit preps Earl Mitchell for critical year

If you can't handle being yelled at, CrossFit probably isn't the workout for you.

Fortunately (sort of) for Texans nose tackle Earl Mitchell, he gets yelled at plenty in his day job, which means a little yelling from a CrossFit instructor can't phase him. This offseason, that was how Mitchell prepared for his first season as an NFL starter.

Mitchell said he worked out every day at the Texans' facility. But on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of each week, Mitchell would add CrossFit workouts at night.

“It definitely helped me," he said after one training camp practice. "That stuff takes heart to do and that was just something that I really enjoyed because you kind of find yourself in practice mode when you’re like at the end of those workouts. Those workouts are really similar too, at the end of those workouts I felt how I feel now.”

Endurance was Mitchell's main focus in adding CrossFit to his repertoire. He'll need it more now than ever with the added load he'll carry. He played quite a bit last season, spelling starter Shaun Cody, who played through various injuries during the season. Mitchell started in three games at nose tackle as Cody recovered from a collapsed lung and broken ribs.

His development really began to show during that time. The Houston native was a third-round draft pick in 2010 and hadn't played on the defensive line long. He was moved from offense in college at Arizona.

By the end of last season, he was a backup in name only.

This season will be big for Mitchell, who is reaching the end of his rookie contract. He's valuable to the Texans now, but would likely be even more valuable to a team that runs a 4-3 system in free agency next year.

Mitchell comes into this year with a lot more confidence in what he can do. He spent a lot of time in the offseason figuring out exactly where he could improve.

"Looking back into last year, I noticed myself in a lot of positions to make plays," Mitchell said. "I missed a tackle here, missed a tackle there. I really wanted to just make it kind of hard on myself just by making plays. That’s just something I just wanted to, you know, I’m big on now and I just really want to make sure I make those plays and take the pressure off of (DE) J.J. (Watt) and (DE) Antonio (Smith).”

If he does that, it'll be a very good thing for the Texans and his own future.