Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dolphins' new D-tackle Mitchell primed for new role


For the first time in four-plus seasons, the interior of the Miami Dolphins' defensive line won't feature the indomitable Paul Soliai, who left for more lucrative waters this offseason.

The guy they pegged to replace him will be seeing some significant changes himself in 2014.

Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom Miami signed to a four-year, $16 million contract on the first day of free agency, will be transitioning from nose tackle in the Houston's 3-4 front to one-gapping defensive tackle in the Dolphins' 4-3.

While his positional category doesn't change, the new scheme will carry with it new responsibilities and new challenges for the fifth-year veteran.

“It’ll be really interesting to see how it all pans out,” Mitchell said of his new role, via the team website. "I have full confidence in my abilities to come in and just get an understanding of how the defense is run, making sure that I’m doing my part.”

Mitchell's part projects to be as a one-technique tackle alongside Randy Starks, drawing double teams and fortifying the run defense -- a job Soliai performed at a high level during his time in a Dolphins uniform.

Quite frankly, no one is certain if Mitchell, who was primarily a reserve with the Texans prior to last season, can fill those shoes, but he expects to produce better tape each season he plays.

“For me it’s always about progressing,” Mitchell said. “I want to look back at the season before and look at the stat sheet or my production and I want to make sure that I see someone different every time I look at the film. I want to not recognize the guy from the year before. That’s my key.”

A huge part of progressing as player, Mitchell says, is turning the microscope on yourself.

“It’s all about just watching yourself as a player,” Mitchell said. “You continue to watch film and as you’re watching it, you’re like, aaaarrg, I could have done that better or I’ll know better for next time. You just continue to watch it and you just continue to try to progress as a player."

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