Mitchell was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Tuesday when the Vikings placed Erasmus James on injured reserve after the 2005 first-round draft pick joined 2006 first-round draft pick Chad Greenway on the injured-reserve list with a torn ACL.
Judging from the brief observation media was allowed at practice on Wednesday, the Vikings could start Darrion Scott at left end and move Kenechi Udeze to right end. Behind them figures to be fourth-round draft choice Ray Edwards, but Mitchell is confident he'll be one of the 45 Vikings active on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
"I'll be active," he told Viking Update Wednesday. "If they have long drives, I believe I'll get (time). If the defense is three-and-out, I'll probably do more watching than anything."
Despite improving his status from undrafted free agent to practice squad player to a member of the 53-man roster, Mitchell said his approach will not change.
"I was pretty much wired in every day I came in, just trying to get better. Regardless of practice squad, active squad, whatever, I'm just trying to get better. It's pretty much the same except that I'm going to play on Sunday," he said.
The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder from Ole Miss believes his level of competition in college – where he faced Shawn Andrews, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, and other offensive linemen now in the NFL – will help him quickly acclimated to a regular-season game at this level. And, he added, going against the offensive tackles with the Vikings is a pretty solid measuring stick (he also faced Marcus Johnson at Ole Miss practices).
It was at Ole Miss that Mitchell started 20 of the 45 games he played. He started all 11 games last year at left defensive end, where he says he's been getting most of his practice time with the Vikings and where he feels most comfortable. In his college career, he made 19 of his 20 starts at left end, with the other coming at defensive tackle, where he has no desire to play.
For now, he's not overly impressed with the speed of the NFL athlete, but he has come to appreciate the mental side of the game, something to which he is adapting.
"I've seen the conditioning of the athlete, the film watching and stuff like that – the mental part, (but) it wasn't hard (because) the game of football is something I love," Mitchell said.
The Vikings placed James on injured reserve on Tuesday, so you might have thought the Vikings would work out several defensive ends in search of a replacement for him. Not so, which shows the thin state of affairs at defensive end on the free agent market.
Instead, the team worked out three young wide receivers – Rasheed Marshall of West Virginia, Brad Pyatt of Northern Colorado and Troy Bergeron (no college).
Marshall was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, 172nd overall, and spent time with them again this off-season. He is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds.
Pyatt signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2003, but spent eight games on injured reserve that year with a neck injury, then spent all of 2005 on the Colts' IR with a shoulder injury. At 5-11, 195, he was a reserve kick returner with the Colts before joining San Francisco earlier this year.
At 6-2, 190 pounds, Bergeron did not attend college but was with the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year.
LION IN RAIDERS CLOTHING?
According to published reports, the Detroit Lions have inquired about acquiring Oakland Raiders receiver Jerry Porter. Porter has been in head coach Art Shell's doghouse this year and inactive while causing a stir with some of his words and actions, but he remains a highly talented receiver.