Nose tackle Earl Mitchell jumped on the latest fitness-craze bandwagon this offseason.
The four-year veteran adopted a new routine over the past three months in the hopes that it would improve his physical fitness and prepare him for a starting role in the 2013 season.
"Previously, I was doing a lot of technique and things of that nature, but this year I decided to get more in shape," Mitchell said following Thursday's OTAs session. "I took up Crossfit training and it was very instrumental for my cardio right now. There were a lot of drills and things that were based in there, just helping out with my overall cardio."
Improved endurance is one of the things Mitchell believes will contribute to solidifying his role as a starter, a role that has been his for the taking since 2012 starter Shaun Cody entered free agency.
Head coach Gary Kubiak expressed his confidence in Mitchell several times this week, calling him a "fine player" and a "key" to the team's success.
"You watch practice every day and Earl acts like a full-time starter," Kubiak said. "If it's time to be a big-time guy, it's time, and Earl's acting like that. That's been big for him."
Mitchell, a Houston native from North Shore High School in Galena Park, is happy but not content to hear Kubiak's praise.
"It's really exciting," Mitchell said. "To have him have confidence me is really nice, but I gotta come out and continue to prove myself every day, and that's pretty much all I've been doing, trying to get better and perfect my craft."
A third-round draft pick out of Arizona in 2010, Mitchell believes he has paid his dues over the past three seasons and is ready to step up for the team.
"Hopefully, it all comes down to this," he said. "I have a big chip on my shoulder with this being my last season on my contract. I definitely need to just show what I can do and make this season the best one yet so hopefully I can be here for even longer."