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Branch still out, Mitchell prepares for first start

Mike Mitchell inched closer to his first start as Raiders strong safety Friday when Tyvon Branch missed practice with a neck injury.

Also not practicing as warm-ups and drills gave way to team sessions were running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (high ankle sprains), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring) and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring).

Coach Dennis Allen said regarding Branch on Thursday he’d have “some real concern’’ if he weren’t able to practice the following day.

Mitchell, in his fourth season out of Ohio, has been on the field seven times at the start of games when the Raiders opened in a nickel defense, but never as a starting strong safety in the base defense.

“Obviously, it’s a goal of mine to be a starter in this league and to play,’’ Mitchell said. “I welcome the opportunity. It’s unfortunate, what’s going on with Tyvon. You never want one of your brothers to get hurt, but I’m willing to play.’’

It’s a big challenge in that the New Orleans offense features tight Jimmy Graham, a 6-foot-7 former basketball player out of Miami who has 45 receptions for 533 yards and seven touchdowns and presents a nightmare matchup because he’s too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers.

“I haven’t seen anyone get very physical with him yet, as far as DBs,’’ Mitchell said. “Most guys are too small, and they shy away from him. She just bodies them. I’m curious to see how he’s going to handle more of a physical, skill-position guy checking him at the line.’’

Taken in the second round of the 2009 draft, Mitchell remains eager to validate the decision by Al Davis to select him, a choice that astonished some draft analysts who considered him a late-round pick or potential undrafted free agent.

Mitchell has battled injuries at times, played in different defensive packages and on special teams, and looks forward to his first crack at being a full-time player. The presence of Branch, drafted the previous year and a starter for the last 57 games, has kept Mitchell in a supporting role.

“I’m just so ready to be done with this, to show what I can do,’’ Mitchell said. “I’m tired — I feel like I’ve been held back, held back, held back. So if I get the opportunity I just want to go play good football and show the abilities God has blessed me with.’’

Mitchell plays with emotion and reckless abandon. He’s known as a “friendly fire’’ threat among teammates, and Allen is hoping to see Mitchell dial it back just a bit when necessary.

“He’s a very passionate player, he works extremely hard, he loves the game,’’ Allen said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to slow his heartbeat down a little bit and get him to calm down. It’s important to him, and that’s what I like about him.’’

– If Heyward-Bey can’t play, it means more snaps for Rod Streater, Derek Hagan and Juron Criner.

– Assuming Seymour is out, Desmond Howard will draw his second straight start at defensive tackle alongside Tommy Kelly.

– Marcel Reece will open at running back with McFadden and Goodson out, backed up by Jeremy Stewart, with Owen Schmitt playing fullback in formations that call for it.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • dr_robert

    so if a team sucks, it must mean all of it’s players suck right? no ability to sort thru the team and find the keepers? cut all 53 and start over right? you apparently have no ability to diagnose the problem. just “they suck”.

    so according to u, every player on the chiefs, jaguars, browns, jets, rams, panthers, redskins, and eagles sucks, correct?

  • boss01

    Are there any TITSTERS in the house? Lmao

    Gotta be my all time favorite nickname on this blog

  • RaidersAllday_LtsGeTit

    I was shocked watching the baltimore game last week and heard the commentators say the most points given up since the PRE AL ERA

    Shocked.. WTF???!!! really?!! Cmon D.A and you are defensive guy? Not even hue/ Breshan did that. wow

    AL would have tore da new one

  • dr_robert

    the best way to find out who sucks? whoever is making the most plays. cut them immediately.

  • MiamiRaider78

    Who the fck is TITS? lol

    Little help.

  • dr_robert

    u simply CAN NOT have guys making tackles. it’s surest sign that a player sucks. make tackles? cut him!

  • dr_robert

    by wheeler making all those tackles, he is preventing the rest of the guys from making plays. he MUST GO!

  • boss01

    Dr_robert Says: November 16th, 2012 at 1:40 pmby wheeler making all those tackles, he is preventing the rest of the guys from making plays. he MUST GO!

    ———-

    He is “slow”ing the development of Mcjogger.

  • MiamiRaider78

    McJogger. lmao Thats the greatest nickname ever for a football player

  • RAIDERMAN99

    Gonna tell you guys something.

    I’ve suffered through too many years of this team sucking.

    Way too many.

    But through the darkest years, I never abandoned hope.

    Always felt we’d get it turned around.

    Even during the ‘Bed and Breakfast’ year, I knew the team was horrific, had hit ROCK BOTTOM – but I also knew CHANGE was definitely on the way. Might only result in more futility – but something was going to be done to try to get us out of the sht storm.

    Not with these azzclowns though.

    Can’t get behind a team with Krapp as OC or a HC that was dumb enough to hire him and too fkng blind to not dismiss him.

    C’mon Reggie – Give me some hope.

  • boss01

    MiamiRaider78 Says: November 16th, 2012 at 1:39 pmWho the fck is TITS? lolLittle help.

    I believe people here are calling DA “Tits” but the reason and origin is an urban legend.

  • Scourge

    MiamiRaider78 Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Who the fck is TITS? lol

    Little help.
    =================

    MR78, I believe Tits is Dennis Allen. Apparently, one of our esteemed bloggers saw that DA had man-tits one day on the sideline hence the name.

    Congrats again by the way.

  • RAIDERMAN99

    I believe people here are calling DA “Tits” but the reason and origin is an urban legend.
    ================================================
    This happens to be an urban legend that is TRUE.

    The origin of the Tits nickname is based on the fact that DA is a skinny dweeb that’s sprouting some A cup udders.

    During the warmer summer months when Tits is wearing a t-shirt, it’s very noticeable.

    Tits has tits.

    His coaching might be a joke, but the fact that he has man-boobs is not.

  • LILALDAVIS

    Epic Rant by a fellow Raider Nation faithful.
    http://youtu.be/4ckd45q6dYs <~~~~ Watch