Earl Mitchell is getting ready for Texans training camp with a new role this season, starter. The nose tackle, now entering his fourth year with the Texans, has played 47 of the 48 games since being selected in the third-round (81st overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. With last year's starter Shaun Cody now a free agent, Mitchell has added responsibility this season.
"It definitely puts some weight on my shoulders but I definitely feel like I have what it takes to replace what Shaun just did. I feel prepared to take on that role," Mitchell said Wednesday during the Texans Verizon Back to Football Care-A-Van. "I'm definitely ready. Training camp is a grind. I feel prepared and I'm really excited about just getting better."
The Texans drafted four new players on defense, including nose tackle Chris Jones in the sixth-round. Excited by all the new faces in the locker room, Mitchell wants to take on a leadership role.
"They bring a lot of different things to our team," Mitchell said of rookies, such as second-round pick D.J. Swearinger. "They have a lot of speed and like I said, youth. They just have a lot of energy and I really think that they could help us because we have a lot of older guys on our team to lead those guys and make sure they understand what they are getting themselves into. I am definitely going to take a lot of the younger guys under my wing as well. I feel like I can do what I can to help prepare them to further our ride throughout the playoffs. "
Mitchell also hopes that another veteran's playoff experience will prepare him for the playoffs this year. Having just won Super Bowl XLVII, Ed Reed will be a natural leader for the team's postseason aspirations.
"He's one of my neighbors in my locker room," Mitchell said, referring to the nine-time Pro Bowl safety. "I get to just say a few words to him every now and then but you can definitely tell that he is a leader. He is going to bring something to our team that is really special.
"He's a natural leader. He's obviously one of the best players to ever play that position and just the way he goes about his business. It's something that you want to emulate. It's something that you hopefully can take into your game. He's definitely been part of some Super Bowl championship teams and hopefully, we want to bring that to our team as well."