The Detroit Lions had plenty of bright spots on both sides of the ball in their 21-16 win over the New York Giants in the preseason opener on Friday night. Second-year tight end James Mitchell was certainly one.
This offseason, Mitchell has not been under the radar in a Detroit offense loaded with weapons. Against the Giants, though, Mitchell was hard to miss.
The 2022 fifth-round pick out of Virginia Tech was a steady target for Nate Sudfeld, who found him for a nice play in the first half to get the ball deeper into the red zone for the Lions.
That wasn't all for Mitchell, though. He also made a nice catch in the second half to help the Lions extend a drive. Simple, steady plays.
By the end of the night, Mitchell collected 53 receiving yards on three receptions with a long catch of 32 yards. It was a solid game all around for Mitchell, who was easily the standout of the tight end room for Detroit in the game.
James Mitchell takes step forward in Detroit Lions' tight end battle
The big outing from Mitchell was notable. Lions' No. 1 tight end Sam LaPorta has enjoyed a nice offseason so far, but he is a rookie.
Brock Wright has experience, but the the Lions' tight end depth took a hit with the unfortunate injury to Shane Zylstra. Folks have noticed Mitchell in training camp, and as Tim Twentyman of the team website noted he's a player who should not be slept on.
Mitchell's recovery from the ACL injury that sidelined him as a senior in college slowed his development. But a healthy offseason put him on a better track moving into his second season.
Working with the second team, Mitchell made a big statement in the Lions' tight end battle during the preseason opener. His showing was one of the most important developments from the victory.