Notebook: Mitchell states his case

DE Jayme Mitchell is back in form two years after a knee injury sidelined him. His strong showing against the Rams puts him squarely in play for a roster spot at a deep position. Plus, get notes from Brett Favre's first practice of the 2010 season with the Vikings.

Jayme Mitchell flashed some potential early in his rookie career, but it's been a slow, winding road for him since then.

Mitchell started his career as an undrafted rookie in 2006, Brad Childress' first season as head coach, and tied for third-most sacks by a rookie in a game when he notched two against New England's Tom Brady.

In fact, it was Mitchell that was called upon to replace first-round draft choice Erasmus James. James is no longer in the league while Mitchell is battling to stay relevant five years later and did a good job of that Saturday night in St. Louis when he terrorized the Rams' No. 1 overall draft pick, Sam Bradford.

Mitchell was hardly surprised by his output, impressive as two sacks, two tackles-for-loss, two quarterback hurries and a pass defensed might be.

"That's just me getting better as a player. I'm healthy. I finally got my knee back to where I needed to be and I'm starting to feel like myself. I just got it done," he said.

"I'm pretty sure I can do it every game. Just stay healthy and get out there and do what I do."

Mitchell suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first preseason game of 2008. He was on the roster last year, but far from completely recovered.

"They say it takes a year to get back on the field. I say two years to get back to your explosiveness and your strength and your balance," he said. "The knee was a big factor in getting back strong, getting back in shape. It's getting back on top of it."

Mitchell played in only four games last year, but during this summer Vikings coach Brad Childress saw what looked like the player of old that initially got the team interested in him.

"I told him earlier on in camp that I felt that he wasn't favoring it, that I didn't see any hitch in his gait. You could see him play fast," Childress said. "Some things that I thought were a little off last year I didn't see any of that, right from the early start of training camp. It was just great for him to get those rushes on tape. He pestered that guy all day long. Whether it was outside, inside, spinning on him, he gave the guy fits."

His performance against the Rams even earned praise from the Vikings' best pass rusher.

"I've known it since I got here. He's had the tools to be an excellent player. And he's put in the work and the dedication in," defensive end Jared Allen said. "You've seen it this offseason. You know he's really kind of coming into his own. It was good to see him put it on film and, again, it was exciting. I was proud of all of 'em."

But one good game in the preseason opener isn't going to seal a roster spot for Mitchell at a position as deep as the Vikings' defensive line.

Last year, Mitchell was one of nine defensive linemen that ended the season on the roster. It doesn't take long to get to that number this year – Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Jimmy Kennedy, Fred Evans and Letroy Guion. Mitchell could be battling with players like Guion and Evans for a final spot on the defensive line.

"I'm not too worried about the numbers. I know I'm a good player and we've got other great players on the team," Mitchell said. "I don't really pay attention to the numbers. I just go out there and do what I do."

During Saturday night's extended action, that was quite a bit. But even Allen knows the depth on the defensive line is impressive.

"It was good to see the young guys play. I think it shows the depth we have on this team. I was proud of 'em. They did well. … There was no letup. If we take a break, they went in there and played their butts off."

Mitchell did, but his challenge will be to do that consistently whenever given the opportunity this preseason.

WEDNESDAY PRACTICE NOTES

  • The first Brett Favre butt slap was noted at 12:10 p.m., almost a half hour into practice. Fullback Naufahu Tahi was the "beneficiary."

  • Center John Sullivan sat out of practice again with his calf injury. He was jogging gingerly on the sidelines.

  • Favre took the first-team reps immediately, but his first pass during full-team work was incomplete, broken up by CB Lito Sheppard. After a completion to Jim Kleinsasser, Bernard Berrian dropped Favre's third pass, a bullet to the chest.

  • DE Ray Edwards registered a touch sack during Tarvaris Jackson's first series.

  • While Sage Rosenfels went 2-for-2 in his first series of full-team work, Joe Webb got only one snap, a pass that was dropped by Ray Small.

  • Head trainer Eric Sugarman had a little fun with Favre as he walked from one practice field to the other as the quarterbacks switched fields. Sugarman acted like Favre was coming over to him for medical assistance and pointed to his ankle while he feigned concern before breaking into a big smile.

  • The Vikings defense had several nice pass breakups during 7-on-7 drills, including two by Ben Leber, one of them a diving pass defensed.

  • DeAndre Wright also had a couple of pass breakups, including one leaping attempt in the end zone that resulted in Wright limping off the field.

  • Safety Eric Frampton had an interception on a pass by Webb intended for Darius Reynaud.

  • Jared Allen and E.J. Henderson combined for a touch sack on Favre, and Ray Edwards later pushed his blocker back into Favre for what likely would have been another sack.

  • Favre did showcase his strong arm a few times, none better than a bullet in between tight coverage that resulted in a 20-yard completion to Berrian.

  • Sheppard had an interception late in practice on a Webb pass intended for Marquis Hamilton, marking the end to an uneven practice for Webb.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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