With the Detroit Lions trading away tight end T.J. Hockenson earlier this week, James Mitchell is expected to have a major jump in playing time.
Mitchell is a rookie tight end who the Lions took out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. In college, he recorded 52 receptions for 838 yards and seven touchdowns. He also added five rushing touchdowns. So far this season he has played in four games and recorded just one reception for 14 yards. Dan Campbell spoke on Mitchell’s progress earlier this week.
“Mitchell has every week gotten a little bit better,” Campbell said. “He hasn’t gotten a heavy load, but this will be – he’s going to get more on his plate now, and we think he’ll be ready that. We think he’s going to be ready for that.”
The 23-year-old has been working to rehab a torn ACL he suffered in college last year. While he still has room for improvement, the rookie says he’s ready for more responsibility.
“I do feel ready, I think they’ve done a good job preparing me. I haven’t got over six snaps in a game, but I’ve been repping a lot in practice and just building that trust and building that confidence in myself. So, I think I’m ready.”
The coaching staff and players believe they still have the right guys to turn their season around. While Mitchell has seen limited playing time, quarterback Jared Goff says their chemistry is trending in the right direction.
“I think he’s coming in as more of a pass catcher for sure. He did a little bit of that in college and has that in his DNA, and so has done a good job with that developing that, and I’ve seen it today, and even on scout team, we kind of saw it develop as this season has gone on, and again, a guy that I’ve slowly started to become very trustworthy with, and it’s really all that matter when these guys are running routes and catching passes for us.”
Campbell addressed the media on Wednesday following the Hockenson trade. While he said Hockenson was a great player, he thinks the team may be better without him.
“Yeah, look honestly I look at it for it’s an opportunity for other guys and as good as T.J. was, there’s things that we’ll be able to do better potentially,” Capmbell said. “Having other guys on the field. I mean, that’s – there is always some of that give and take no matter what player’s out there.”
The Detroit Lions host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Ford Field.
Maddy Miller – Detroit Lions Beat Reporter
On Twitter: @madelynvmillerr
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