INDIANAPOLIS — Mike Mitchell has made quite the impression in just two weeks' time.
Today, the National Football League announced that the Indianapolis Colts safety was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his standout performance last Sunday in the team's Week 7 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Mitchell's day included seven tackles (one for a loss), a forced fumble that was recovered by linebacker Darius Leonard, and then an interception, helping lead the Colts to a 37-5 victory that snapped a four-game losing streak.
Mitchell is the second Colts player to be named AFC Defensive Player of the Week this season, joining Leonard, who earned that honor after his 19-tackle, one sack, one forced fumble performance Week 2 against the Washington Redskins.
It's the first AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for Mitchell, who becomes the first Indianapolis safety to win the award since Mike Adams in Week 5 of the 2015 season.
Perhaps the most impressive part about Mitchell's rise has been just how quickly he's been able to come in and contribute — and produce — for this Colts' defense.
Starting strong safety Clayton Geathers suffered a concussion and a neck injury during Indy's Week 5 contest against the New England Patriots, so with an immediate need at the position, the Colts on Oct. 9 signed the 10-year NFL veteran Mitchell, who had been on the open market since March.
But Mitchell's past production, as well as his experience in the defensive scheme employed by the Colts, made him an ideal candidate to come in and contribute right away — which is exactly what happened just five days after his signing, when he was the team's starting strong safety against the New York Jets.
Mitchell had six tackles in his Colts debut and showed well in coverage, and was named to Pro Football Focus' Week 6 “Team of the Week” for his efforts.
That production only got better last Sunday against the Bills. Mitchell's forced fumble on tight end Charles Clay in the second quarter directly led to a touchdown for the Indy offense, while his interception of quarterback Derek Anderson later in the period led to a Adam Vinatieri 36-yard field goal in the final seconds before halftime.
And while that kind of production has been great, Colts head coach Frank Reich has really appreciated Mitchell's leadership qualities.
"He just oozes leadership right from the start," Reich said of Mitchell. "He walks in off the street and is leading, and leading by example, making plays and (in) other ways as well. (He's) been a big help and a big lift for our defense."
Mitchell and the Colts next take the field this Sunday in their Week 8 road matchup against the Oakland Raiders before hitting their bye week.