Gutierrez: Mitchell Taking Note of NFL's Crackdown

October 20, 2010, 7:40 pm
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Oct. 20, 2010


Paul Gutierrez

ALAMEDA Mike Mitchell was appealing to the Raiders in the 2009 draftout of Ohio, in part, due to his reputation as a game-changing bighitter in the mold of Jack Tatum.

Whether or not the second-year strong safety has reminded anyone inSilver and Blackdom of the late Assassin is besides the point. ButMitchell is coming off the two best games of his young career. And,with his physical style of play, Mitchell has taken a special interestin the NFLs cracking down of illegal hits this week.

Theyve got to do what theyve got to do to keep it safe, Mitchellsaid. Especially this week, theres been a lot of injuries and thatsthe main thing for guys. Were not out here to hurt each other and gethurt. This is a game we play for fun. It a game we love. So obviously,there has to be rules to protect us.

Three players Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, New Englandsafety Brandon Meriweather and Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson wereeach fined by the NFL on Tuesday for dangerous and flagrant hits thispast weekend. Harrison was docked 75,000 for his blow on Clevelandreceiver Mohamed Massaquoi, while Meriwether, who hit Baltimore tightend Todd Heap, and Robinson, who knocked himself out along withPhiladelphia receiver DeSean Jackson, were slapped with 50,000 fines.An upset Harrison is reportedly contemplating retirement.

I think weve got to watch to make sure were not taking away fromplayers aggressiveness, but I definitely agree that we have to havethese steps taken to crack down a little bit and make this thing alittle safer. I just hope that one day, were not playing flagfootball, Mitchell said.

Two Sundays ago, Mitchell as lauded for his coverage of San DiegosAll-World tight end Antonio Gates. Three days ago, he shadowed the49ers Vernon Davis. Mitchells thoughts?

"Well, Vernon didnt have a catch this week on me so I guess that animprovement, Mitchell said with a smile. I gave up one against Gatesand I gave up none this weekI just want to keep getting better, keepprogressing.

The coaches and the players on my team, I think Im gaining theirrespect, slowly but surely. I just got to keep working and find outwhat I didnt do good last week and improve going into this next game.Thats what this things about 16 games, every week youve just gotto keep getting a little better.

So I asked Mitchell if there was any chance of a letdown this weekgoing against Denvers relatively unheralded tight end duo of DanielGraham and Dan Gronkowski.

Uh, no, Mitchell said with another grin. Because I dont have a nameyet and Im trying to develop a name as being a good player in thisleague. So every opponent I face, Im getting up for.

This is the NFL. Its the best of the best. There are no slouches orany bums or anything like that. Everyone is going to be a great playerso every week Im bringing my A Game and, you know, well just letthe chips fall where they may.

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