Terrance Mitchell has been here before. Shaking off the cobwebs isn’t something he even considers as he eyes his long-awaited return to the field Sunday against the Panthers.
Mitchell, who is coming back from a broken wrist, scoffed at the notion he’d need to be worked back slowly into the Browns’ lineup. Back in 2015, Mitchell was signed off the street to Dallas’ practice squad in early December. Just a couple of weeks later, Mitchell, who had played for the Bears earlier that season, was added to the active roster and forced to jump right in after not seeing the field for two months. He wound up playing 47 snaps and nabbed his first career interception.
The same situation popped up in 2016 when Mitchell was summoned from the Chiefs’ practice squad after eight weeks on the sidelines. He blended right back in because it’s what was required.
“I was eight weeks of not even playing, then played in a game,” Mitchell said. “I will just go out there and just do my best. Let the chips fall where they may.”
That’s fortunate for the Browns. Mitchell might not have any other choice Sunday as the Browns deal with multiple injuries in the secondary.
Star rookie Denzel Ward missed Wednesday’s practice and remains in the league’s concussion protocol after suffering the injury in the first half of last week’s loss to the Texans. The player who took over the lion’s share of his snaps, Phillip Gaines, did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.
It’s nothing new for a Browns secondary that has dealt with plenty of injuries throughout the season. Ward has yet to miss a game this year, but the Browns have had to make plenty of other shifts in response to a variety of bumps and bruises -- some, like Mitchell’s, more significant than others.
“We have done a really good job with guys bouncing around,” coach Gregg Williams said. “We do believe strongly in our next man up so we have already been doing those types of things already. The next guy has to be ready to go.”
Mitchell believes he’ll be the next guy this week as the Browns look to stop a Cam Newton-led Panthers offense that doesn’t rely on wide receivers as much as most NFL offenses -- RB Christian McCaffrey is the team’s leading receiver -- but still has threats in rookie DJ Moore and Devin Funchess.
Mitchell was having arguably the best season of his career before he went down with the injury. He earned a starting job midway through training camp and carried that momentum into the season. He forced two fumbles in a Week 2 loss to the Saints and had the game-sealing interception Week 3 against the Jets.
Plenty’s changed since Mitchell last saw the field, but he’s hopeful he can pick up right where he left off. He’s certainly experienced in this sort of scenario.
“T-Mitch has been very productive in the games that he has been here and the games he has played in,” cornerback T.J. Carrie said. “A very highly talented guy. He knows the game. He has played for a while. It is always good to get another dominant cornerback out there.”