That’s because Mitchell is now a lean, barrel-chested 308 pounds, up from the 287 at which he played last season. Entering his third year in the NFL, he took it upon himself to strengthen his upper body with a rigorous offseason of training.
“It was kind of a conscious effort,” Mitchell (6-3) said on Thursday. “I just focused on knowing what I needed to do and just kind of the battles that I was going through, knowing that I needed to weigh a little bit more just to withstand those double teams in playing nose tackle. I thought that this was going to be a big year for me, so I approached it very seriously and pretty much just wanted to hit it with a full head of steam to build off of how I was playing in the latter part of the season.”
Mitchell, a third-round pick out of Arizona in 2010, rotated with starting nose tackle Shaun Cody in 2011. He played in all 16 games with 27 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries, and recorded the first sack in Texans playoff history.
So how did Mitchell put on all that weight? He says it started with buying dumbbells to use while sitting around the house – “whenever I had some free time, whenever I was bored.” He also worked out at the University of Houston with Brian Odom, his strength coach at the University of Arizona who was hired by the Cougars this spring.
Of course, Mitchell also ate more, too.
“I taught myself how to cook a little bit, so that was a big addition to my offseason,” he said. “That way I could just eat whenever I wanted. I would go to Smoothie King every morning, get like a huge shake from there. I would go work out, and right after that, I would eat. I kind of just developed a routine. That was pretty much the big difference as opposed to my two previous seasons, just making a routine and sticking to it.”
Even though he’s 21 pounds bigger than last season, and heavier than ever before, Mitchell hasn’t felt slower during the first few weeks of the Texans’ offseason conditioning program.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m maintaining the weight and running good, and I’m actually feeling good heading into the OTAs. Hopefully, it’ll translate on the field.
“I feel pretty much the same. So far, I noticed a big change in the weight room. I’ve gotten a lot stronger, and I feel a whole lot better and just a whole lot more confident just being around my teammates, just feeling stronger and feeling a little bit more healthy conditioning-wise.”
And what have his teammates said about the new Earl?
“They’ve got a little jokes like here and there, but they’re all happy about what I’ve done in the offseason,” he said. “They can notice the gradual change, and they notice a big difference in how I actually approached this offseason. So it’s just a good feeling to know that they’re confident.”
Tags: Earl Mitchell, Shaun Cody
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