Mitchell arrived at training camp with a groin injury and spent more than a week on the physically unable to perform list before he started practicing with the Steelers.
Mitchell told the NFL Network after the Steelers’ 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Saturday night that he played through the injury during the season rather than have surgery so he wouldn’t miss any games.
Mitchell downplayed the groin injury on Monday and said he simply answered a question about it when asked after the Steelers’ AFC wild-card loss.
“I hate that this is even a story,” Mitchell said. “We all play hurt. Everyone on the team has injuries so I’m no different than any other player.”
Mitchell played every game in his first season with the Steelers and finished second on the team with 71 tackles. He did not intercept a pass after making four picks for the Carolina Panthers in 2013 and became a magnet for fan criticism.
Mitchell said the groin did affect him but added that he refuses to use it as a crutch.
“It would be like having the brakes on your car not be right,” Mitchell said. “I’m not making excuses, I’m not apologizing for anything. One thing we don’t do here in Pittsburgh is we don’t seek comfort. Everyone plays hurt.”
A couple of notes:
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will provide an injury update at his final news conference of the season today. One player who avoided a serious injury was right tackle Marcus Gilbert. The fourth-year veteran left the Ravens game with an ankle injury and did not return, but Gilbert apparently only suffered a sprain. “That’s good for him, that’s good for us,” left guard Ramon Foster said.
The Steelers signed seven players to future contracts Monday, including offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, the former Army Ranger who is trying to make the NFL after a decorated military career and tight end Rob Blanchflower, a seventh-round draft pick in 2014. Also signing with the Steelers were wide receiver C.J. Goodwin, cornerback Kevin Fogg, defensive end Ethan Hemer, defensive lineman Joe Kruger and outside linebacker Howard Jones. All seven of the players who signed future contracts finished the season on the Steelers’ practice squad.