Steelers notebook: Mitchell eager to work with Polamalu

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 5:12 p.m.

The wait is almost over for Steelers safety Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell, who signed a five-year, $25 million free agent contract in the offseason to replace Ryan Clark at free safety, has yet to meet his safety partner Troy Polamalu.

Polamalu has not shown up for any of the voluntary organized team activities, but the All-Pro safety will be at mandatory minicamp that starts Tuesday.

Mitchell can't wait.

“I keep hearing so many things about him,” Mitchell said. “It's really hard to get to know a guy from phone conversations and text messages, so I look forward to seeing him in person and seeing how he works. I'm in my playbook every night studying my butt off so when he gets here we'll both know the defense.”

Mitchell had 3 12 sacks and 66 tackles during his only year in Carolina and has shown in OTAs that his speed is already an upgrade over Clark. Mitchell had four interceptions a year ago.

“I pride myself on creating turnovers and making positive plays for my team,” Mitchell said. “I think if you throw at me I have a good chance to take the ball away from you.”

Helping hand

Cortez Allen has started only 10 games over his three-year career, but he is already one of the most experienced corners on the roster.

Allen, penciled in as the starting left cornerback, has been willing to help out the younger players including rookie Shaquille Richardson, youngster Antwon Blake and newcomer Brice McCain.

“I have had the opportunity to play some games early on and had the opportunity to be around some great veterans who taught me the way,” Allen said. “The things they gave me, I am giving them. That's what makes us a special group; that we are so close that there is no ego.”

Heath was healthy

Tight end Heath Miller might not have had his best season last year coming back from knee surgery, but it wasn't because of the knee surgery at the end of 2012 that forced him to miss all of offseason practices, training camp and the first two games.

“For all the games, I was fortunate to feel good last year,” Miller said. “Now, I might have to change the way and cut back on how I prepared during the week leading up to the game. But as I said, I felt good for all the games.”

Odds and ends

The Steelers will hold their final OTA session Thursday … Rookie fifth-round pick Wesley Johnson and Cameron Heyward got into a scuffle during practice. It was the second fight during OTAs. … Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount lined up in the backfield together during a play. … Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Cody Wallace were absent while defensive end Nick Williams worked some individual drills for the first time this spring. … Jason Worilds continued to be sidelined with a lower leg injury he suffered on the first day.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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