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Mike Mitchell played the 2014 season with a torn groin

A report says Mitchell will have surgery to repair it, and while he isn't specifically using it as an excuse for his less-than-expected performance in 2014, the implication is still there.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers safety Mike Mitchell had a rocky first year in Pittsburgh. As Aditi Kinkhabwala reported after the Steelers lost to Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs, Mitchell played the 2014 season with a torn groin - possibly connected to the injury that held him back at the start of training camp.

It's been quite a while since the Steelers' starting free safety failed to log an interception, but Mitchell did force a few fumbles, and, before Saturday, played reasonably well down the stretch.

But as Mitchell points out, astutely, no one will care about that. Mitchell found himself in a bit of trouble for threatening a kid who taunted him on Twitter, and clearly, he's sensitive about his perception in Pittsburgh.

In a town where winning is the bottom line, individuals who sign big contracts but fail to produce are immediately held responsible. It's not an unreasonable stance to take most of the time, but gutting out a season with that kind of injury (look at how slow he broke to stay with Ravens tight end Owen Daniels on a critical third down conversion for Baltimore in the Wild Card loss) deserves some respect.

We're willing to give Mitchell a pass for this year, but we also hope he works hard this offseason to live up to the contract he signed. We expect he'll be back, and if he is healthy, we expect a much better season in 2015.

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