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Mitchell Looking For Continued Growth

Posted May 5, 2014

New Dolphins defensive tackle has gotten better and better with each passing year.

The way Earl Mitchell sees it, every NFL season represents an opportunity to reinvent himself.

The new Dolphins defensive tackle doesn’t talk numbers when it comes to setting goals for the upcoming season. He merely wants to be a different player than he was last year.

“For me it’s always about progressing,” Mitchell said in an interview with The Finsiders Monday. “I want to do something better every single season. I want to look back at the season before and I want to be able to look at the stat sheet or I want to be able to look at my production or how I’ve changed or how I’ve grown as a player and I want to make sure that I see someone different every time I look at the film. I want to not recognize the guy from the year before. That’s my key.”

If his career arc continues the way it has since he entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the Houston Texans in the 2010 draft, the Dolphins would have no issue with that.

Simply put, Mitchell has gotten better and better with each passing year and he won’t turn 27 years old until Sept. 25. In 2013, Mitchell became a full-time starter for the first time and helped the Houston defense finish seventh overall in total yards allowed despite the team’s disappointing 2-14 showing.

But it wasn’t as though Mitchell was satisfied with his performance. He’s looking to build on it, and that meant not wasting a lot of time in the offseason.

That, in turn, meant watching a lot of film.

“It’s all about just watching yourself as a player,” Mitchell said. “You continue to watch film and as you’re watching it, you’re like, aaaarrg, I could have done that better or I’ll know better for next time. You just continue to watch it and you just continue to try to progress as a player and just watching yourself is really what helps me and just understanding my fit and just getting an overall fit of the game. It also helps that you actually know a lot of the players that you’re playing against in the league, being in the league for three-plus years.”

Mitchell clearly was a priority for the Dolphins, who signed him on the second day of free agency as the first defensive player they acquired as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

As Mitchell goes through the offseason conditioning program with his teammates, a big part of the focus for him is on building a rapport with his new defensive line mates, especially since he’s joining a group that returns almost every major contributor from last season.

“Just getting an opportunity to work out with them and just meeting,” Mitchell said. “You can already see the camaraderie that they’ve established and just trying to fit in. It’s just an exciting time and it’s going to be a fun group to be a part of.”

Mitchell also told The Finsiders he’s liked what he’s seen of his new coaches.

“It’s all been great,” he said. “You see some football fun-loving coaches that are really passionate about the game as well and it’s really exciting to be a part of that.”

It’s way too early in the process to try to pinpoint what Mitchell’s role will be with the Dolphins in 2014. He joined a defensive tackle group that includes two-time Pro Bowl selection Randy Starks, 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick, as well as promising young players A.J. Francis and Isaako Aaitui.

Mitchell will have to make an adjustment going to a 4-3 base after playing in Houston’s 3-4 scheme, but he said after signing with the Dolphins that change appealed to him. He basically indicated the same thing in his interview with The Finsiders.

“It’ll be really interesting to see how it all pans out,” he said. “I’m definitely excited about the opportunity. I have full confidence in my abilities to come in and just get an understanding of how the defense is run and just making sure that I’m on top of everything and just making sure that I’m a responsible teammate and making sure that I’m doing my part.”

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