Rookie WR Mitchell impresses in return to practice


Rookie WR Mitchell impresses in return to practice

FOXBORO - A day after missing practice for an undisclosed reason, Patriots rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was back at it on Day 4 of training camp and made his presence known.

The former University of Georgia standout showed up in 1-on-1 drills near midfield, selling a go route before stopping on a dime to catch a laser from Jimmy Garoppolo. He followed that by snapping off a quick slant against Darryl Roberts, leaving the young cornerback in his wake as Garoppolo delivered another strike.

The group then progressed into the red area and Mitchell was at it again, shaking V’Angelo Bentley along the back line of the end zone for an easy pitch and catch from Tom Brady. A dozen snaps or so later, on his next opportunity, the 6-1, 200 pounder used his body well to shield Roberts and reel in a back shoulder throw from Brady, drawing praise from not just the quarterback, but coaching staff as well. Mitchell added another catch on 7-on-7 before absorbing more mental reps when the Pats did more 11-on-11 team work.

After practice, Mitchell smiled when asked about winning those individual battles.

“It’s all pride,” he said. “It’s man on man. Who’s better? And whoever ends up with the ball, or in their case, if no one ends up with the ball, they won.”

Mitchell is like a lot of players, especially the young ones, burying himself in this complex playbook, one that’s caused so many issues before.

“I haven’t heard that,” he joked.

But Mitchell admitted he’s immersed in the playbook so he can play at the tempo required to have success on this level.

“My mom always said you put as much into something that you want to. It’s only hard if you make it. Learning is just simply looking over information long enough so it becomes habit or instinctive. And that’s all you have to do. Now will that take an hour? Or five? I guess that depends on how well you learn.”

So to be clear, he’s not going home to watch Game of Thrones or read magazines.

“Well Game of Thrones season is actually over. I do love that show, but it ended right before training camp, so lucky me,” Mitchell said 

It being Mitchell’s first camp, and his first pro organization, he doesn’t have much to go on comparatively speaking, but the fourth-round pick (112th overall) is somewhat in awe over how everything he does has been analyzed and dissected, right down to the smallest thing.

“Everything matters. From what you eat, to how you hydrate, to the amount of rest you get, to the amount of time you spend doing plays. There’s not a single thing, the cleats you wear, the way you strap on your pads, to your mouthpiece, there’s not a piece that goes unnoticed. And that by far is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen thus far in my young life. To see something so detailed and you immediately understand why the Patriots are who they are.”

Steelers lock up AFC North with 39-38 win over Ravens


Steelers lock up AFC North with 39-38 win over Ravens

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers won one for injured star Ryan Shazier - and wrapped up the AFC North in the process.

Chris Boswell made a 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left and Pittsburgh's defense overcame a sloppy night to stop one Baltimore's last-gasp drive in the Steelers' 39-38 victory Sunday night.

The Steelers (11-2) trailed by 11 points going into the fourth quarter but capped an emotionally trying week following Shazier's spinal injury to rally for their eighth straight victory and third division title in four years.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards, including two long gains in the fourth quarter that allowed the Steelers to recover after blowing an early 14-point lead. Le'Veon Bell had 125 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns.

Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception but was strip-sacked by rookie linebacker T.J. Watt on the Ravens' final snap.

Alex Collins ran for 120 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens (7-6).