The Pittsburgh Steelers paid safety Mike Mitchell a lot of money for his services following the 2013 season. Mitchell was known as a hard-hitting ball hawk in the deep secondary with the Carolina Panthers, but his 2014 film wouldn't show much of either trait. After battling a groin injury all last season, Mitchell is healthy and showing flashes of what he is capable of doing on the football field.
Through 8 games, Mitchell already has 2 interceptions, his only interceptions with the Steelers, and has been a force in the secondary delivering big hits on players going across the middle of the field. One of those hits was against Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones.
During the game at Heinz Field, Jones was attempting to catch a high Andy Dalton pass over the middle of the field, and as he stretched outward it was Mitchell who gave him a clean hit to the midsection.
According to Jones, hits like that can give the player delivering the blow the title of being "fake tough"
"When you turn on the film, you don't see him hitting anybody when they're going head up. That's fake tough," Jones said to ESPN. "It's whatever. He hit me. I just got the wind knocked out of me, and it's OK. It's whatever. When guys get all hyped off minor stuff like that -- hitting somebody that's not even looking -- that's fake tough to me."
In a very physical game, Mitchell's hit was textbook for what the NFL wants to see when it comes to those breath-taking hits over the middle of the field. Mitchell leads with his shoulder, hits Jones in the midsection and takes him to the ground.
"I'm not hurting right now," said Jones, after finishing with two catches for 12 yards. "Nothing hurts. Nothing's sore."
Regardless, calling a player like Mitchell "fake tough" will certainly lead to bulletin board material for the Steelers when Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati for a Week 14 matchup on December 13th. Most would agree this war of words will just add fuel to an already hot fire among AFC North rivals.