Chiefs’ Mitchell is more than holding his own as ‘the other cornerback’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the Kansas City Chiefs’ secondary the past couple of years, there’s been All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters shutting down one side and, well, some other guy playing on the other side.
That other guy, Terrance Mitchell, has made sure everybody knows his name now.
The fourth-year journeyman picked off Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers twice in a 24-10 victory Sunday. He also finished with a team-high nine tackles, swatted away four passes and generally held his own.
“I thought the interceptions were big plays,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “When you’re playing opposite of an All-Pro corner, you’re going to get tested and he stepped up. He did a nice job.”
In truth, he’s been doing a nice job for quite a while.
Mitchell was a seventh-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, then bounced through the Chicago Bears organization. He had played in only eight games when he arrived in Kansas City last year as simply an afterthought, another defensive back to provide some depth to a group hamstrung by injuries.
But he made a quick impression on defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, even working his way into the starting lineup. He wound up appearing in seven games and making a pair of starts, and that earned him the inside track on a starting job going into this season.
He still needed to fend off plenty of competition in training camp, including a push by former third-round pick Phillip Gaines and second-year pro D.J. White. But no matter what the Chiefs threw at him, the quiet, business-first Mitchell always seemed to rise to the occasion.
“He’s a unique kid. Not a lot gets to him,” Reid said. “In his own little, quirky way, he doesn’t let things bother him. He just keeps battling back. That’s a positive for us. Especially in that position, you have to have a real short memory, and he’s got one.”
His ability to rise to the occasion has carried right into the regular season.
Peters, who also had an interception of Rivers last weekend, has already earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks. That means opposing quarterbacks know better than to test him, and that they are likely to have more success on the other half of the field.
“His production the past year says it all in terms of what he’s been able to do,” said Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose team visits Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night. “He’s one of those corners, there’s a few in the league, you are aware of. You know where they line up. You respect them. And you don’t take that lightly when you decide where to go with the football.”
Cousins is much too wise to outright belittle Mitchell, but you can read between the lines. If there is an inferior cornerback in the Kansas City defensive backfield, Cousins believes it’s him.
Same with Tom Brady in the season opener. And Carson Wentz in Week 2.
So, Mitchell has had the ball thrown his way all season, and his ability to hold his own — even with safety valve Eric Berry out with a season-ending injury — is a big reason the Chiefs are 3-0.
“He’s been under the microscope a little bit,” Reid said. “He’s getting a lot of opportunities over there. For him to step up to the challenge has been important.”
NOTES: Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said K Cairo Santos sustained a groin injury late in last week’s win over the Chargers. He was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and the Chiefs claimed rookie K Harrison Butker off the Carolina practice squad to replace him. “He was obviously a good kicker in college,” Reid said. “We liked him coming out. He has a strong leg. He’s a good kicker. We’re looking forward to getting him in there.” … OLB Dee Ford did not practice Thursday with lower back soreness.