‘Ultra-competitor’ Terrance Mitchell nears Bears gig

SHARE ‘Ultra-competitor’ Terrance Mitchell nears Bears gig
SHARE ‘Ultra-competitor’ Terrance Mitchell nears Bears gig

He thought he’d made the team, so he needed a haircut. He wanted to look sharp for the game.

On the drive to a Dallas-area barber, though, the phone rang. It was the Cowboys.

Terrance Mitchell turned around.

“It was a humbling experience,” he said. “From that day that I knew I couldn’t go here again. I’ve gotta go harder.”

The seventh-round pick out of Oregon was among the last players cut by the Cowboys last year. It caught him by surprise; in his mind, cuts were made the way they do them on the television show ‘Hard Knocks,’ not on the phone in the car.

So don’t ask the cornerback if he’s he thinks he’s made the Bears entering the third preseason game Saturday night in Cincinnati. Or if he thinks he can lock down a job with another good game.

He’s been there before, and been wrong.

“I did a few things, but at the end of the day, I could have done more,” he said. “Mentally, I was immature. “

Mitchell — who joined the Bears practice squad two days after being cut by the Cowboys — has been dynamic this preseason. One week ago, he intercepted a pass by jumping over Colts receiver Donte Moncrief. A helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him out of Game 1; never lacking confidence, Mitchell said a Dolphins running back had been talking smack before the hit.

At a position group filled alongside veterans Tim Jennings, Alan Ball and Tracy Porter — as well former first-round pick Kyle Fuller — no one has made more preseason plays than Mitchell.

Entering the third preseason game, Mitchell has allowed one 12-yard completion on four balls thrown his way, intercepting another. The quarterback rating for balls thrown to his area is 0.0, per Pro Football Focus.

If the roster is decided solely on preseason merit, Mitchell is on the roster. But that’s not always the case.

“He’s an ultra-competitor,” Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long said. “That’s the way he’s been since I played with him at Oregon. He’s a football player. He can do anything.”

Mitchell has taken turns returning kickoffs this preseason, and said he’s learned in the last year how important special teams are to his future.

He played scout team wide receiver and running back in a pinch last year, too.

“And he was shredding us up,” Long said. “We’ve seen him do everything.”

He’s learning, too. Mitchell cites skills he worked on during training camp — learning up-field leverage and positioning — for his Game 2 interception. He worked on his speed in the offseason, to be able to play the deep ball better.

“One of my problems in college was, I was just out there covering, not playing physical, trying to get strips, trying to make hard tackles,” he said. “That was a goal of mine, to play aggressive.”

Share Events on The CubeLong has noticed, saying that Mitchell “understands the game of football is a physical one, and one you don’t take plays off in.”

Josh Bellamy has seen that aggressiveness in the Halas Hall lunch room. Mitchell has pulled the wide receiver away from his food, made him put on his cleats and go to the Bears’ indoor facility to work on releases at the line of scrimmage.

“You know he’s going to come to work,” Bellamy said. “So when you line up across T-Mitch, you know you’ve got to come to work.”

Just don’t ask Mitchell about earning that job — at least not yet.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “I gotta continue getting people’s attention.”

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickFinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Mark Potash contributed to this story.


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