Mitchell: 'I am not looking to make excuses'

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Three out of seven days a week safety Mike Mitchell really felt the pain. Not just for one week, but week after week, for more than 17 weeks the cycle repeated itself last season.

"The day of the game and about two days after," said Mitchell. "I usually started feeling better about Friday or Saturday and then you would just repeat it and do it again. That is how it is."

He never complained though, never made it an issue publicly. He just kept playing, keeping the two torn groins that he suffered and naturally impacted his on field play in a negative manner a non-issue.

"It wasn't significant enough to where I couldn't play," said Mitchell. "There were times when Troy (Polamalu) was down and it would have been tough on us to not have both safeties. It did affect me, obviously. I don't think there are too many people that could do that. Being a safety sometimes it would affect the change of direction. There were plays I could have made being in better position, having a better understanding of the defense, which I do believe I have now.

"My dad always says there is a reason for failure, but never an excuse. I am not looking to make any excuses. I am not looking for a way out. I am just focusing on getting better and being as healthy as I can for this year's campaign."

Mitchell admits it was frustrating. As an athlete you always want to be at your best, and when you aren't you hear about it. After coming in as a free agent last season with high expectations, when he didn't always deliver because of the injury, he heard about it on social media. And he didn't like what he heard, causing him to react back at fans and keeping him off of social media these days by his own choice and just focused on football.

"A lot of that stuff is poison," said Mitchell. "I don't really look to seek approval from outsiders. I have always been a guy that is motivated by people I have had in my inner circle. My parents, my best friends and coaches. Those are the opinions that matter to me.

"It did used to bother me when you would read those things and they didn't know what the situation was, but they had an opinion. It was a growing and maturing experience for me. Now I know better and you keep moving forward."

Moving forward is exactly what he is doing on the field. Now in the second week of OTAs he isn't feeling pain, just soreness, something that is night and day from what things were like during the season. The Steelers athletic training staff, and strength and conditioning coach Garrett Giemont, worked all offseason with Mitchell, getting him ready to take the field for OTAs and more importantly preparing him to be ready for training camp and the season.

The Steelers participate in Day 4 of the 2015 Organized Team Activities at the Steelers practice facility.

"I am good enough to be practicing and playing," said Mitchell. "I am not nearly in the amount of pain I was in last year. Last year just opening my hips up was a lot of pain. Now it's just a little bit of soreness here, a little bit there. I talk to my surgeon almost once a week and that is normal. We had to reattach some things to the bone so there is some scar tissue in there. I am just trying to continually break that up. That is a process. It doesn't happen overnight. The progress that we are making is really good.

"Physically, besides some of the day to day soreness that I have, I am not in any real pain. Last year I wasn't even able to back squat. This year I have been back squatting for the first time in over a year. That is a personal achievement of mine. I am feeling way better than last year and focusing on what I can do this year."

Mitchell has settled into the defense in his second season, and also settled into Pittsburgh where he purchased his first home. He loves the Steelers' atmosphere, loves what he does, loves football, his teammates, and is looking forward to attacking the 2015 season healthy and with a better knowledge of the defense.

"I am not going to make any predictions," said Mitchell. "I am just trying to put my head down and work as hard as I can to be the best player I can. That's all Coach (Mike) Tomlin wants out of me, that's all my dad wants out of me and that's all I want for myself."

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