First-Year Defensive Tackle Mitch King Likes His Situation With Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – As Mitch King sees it, his opunity is a good one.
It's also an important one for him. Really, really important.
So, when King – a defensive tackle who signed with the Colts early in the off-season as a free agent after spending his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans – discusses his football situation, what he discusses isn't the past, but the opportunity at hand.
Because that, he said, is what he can control.
"Last year's the past," King said recently during the Colts' 2010 organized team activities, which ended June 11 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"Right now, I'm just working on trying to fit in with these guys."
King, who played collegiately at Iowa, said he feels confident that's possible.
He said his early feeling is that he fits with the Colts, not only in style on the field, but in approach off it, and Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell spoke positively of King during OTAs.
"He has natural leverage," Caldwell said. "He's got strength. He's tenacious. We're looking forward to getting him out on the field to see exactly what he can do once we get things really going. But he is learning the system, getting a good sense of things, and we'll see how he progresses.
"He looks good at this point."
King (6-feet-2, 282), who signed with the Titans as a free agent shortly after the 2009 NFL Draft, was projected by many analysts as a potential late-round selection in that draft. He was released by Tennessee shortly after last preseason, signed briefly to the team's practice squad then was waived in September.
That season followed a collegiate career in which King played extensively for four seasons, earning Big Ten All-Freshman honors in 2006 and twice earning All-Big Ten honors. He switched from linebacker to defensive tackle in 2005 as a freshman, and finished his career with not only 228 tackles, but 55 tackles for losses, 17.5 sacks, 12 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
He was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year as a senior.
He played in all five preseason games, finishing with two tackles, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble, and said he was limited somewhat by an injury during his time with the Titans.
"I'm glad they gave me the opportunity to be here after being hurt last year," King said. "That kind of set me back a little bit. I'm just glad they gave me a shot after that."
King said the experience in Tennessee helped him enter his time with the Colts a bit more prepared, and a bit more aware of the value of an NFL opportunity.
"I'd say I'm a little more knowledgeable of how quick it can be taken away from me," King said. "At Iowa, I played for four years, started for four years, and never got dinged or anything. I never got hurt, then at Tennessee, I got hurt the first day.
"It was eye-opening for me last year knowing it could be taken away from you so quick. That's one thing: You just have to take care of yourself and you have to cherish it. Tomorrow could be the last day – you know that cliché, but it's true.
"I got welcomed to that last year."
King also said he learned the right dynamic, the right circumstance and the right opportunity can mean as much as anything else for a player trying to find a spot on an NFL roster.
"It's the right time and the right place at the right time," he said. "That's how it is. If you're there and you're working your tail off and, God forbid, somebody gets hurt in front of you . . . like I said, it's circumstances. A lot of people get their start that way."
King said he spent the off-season working on not any particular phase of his game, but on his overall approach: trying to fit with the Colts' system – and trying to learn how to contribute and play effectively within it – the best he could.
"I have to overcome a lot of things as far as my size and my height," King said. "I play technique different than a 6-5 defensive tackle plays. Not to say it's better or worse, but you just have to play it different. You have to work on that."
But King said without question, he feels as if the Colts – who emphasize speed and quickness on the defensive front more than size – are a good system for him.
"I feel good here," King said. "I like this organization. I like the team. I like the players. I like the scheme. Obviously, they're a winning organization, which doesn't hurt at all. There are a lot of factors that go into it."
"If it wasn't a good fit, I wouldn't be here. I feel like I can participate and I feel like I can help out the team, but I have to earn it. I have to make it hard for them to cut me. I'm going to be here working hard for them and when training camp comes along, I'm going to show them what I can do in pads and games and things of that nature.
"I'm excited to be here."