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