OXNARD, Calif. -- Rookie cornerback Terrance Mitchell, as cocky as a seventh-round pick can be, rocked his body back and forth and bobbed his head to the beat as the Black Hole serenaded him.
“Thirty sucks! Thirty sucks!” the Oakland Raiders fans chanted, a response to Mitchell taunting the crowd every time he made a play in the joint practices.
Mitchell didn’t mind the vitriol treatment from the visiting fans. He fed off it. Heck, if he couldn’t handle criticism, there’s no way Mitchell could make it through a meeting with Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson.
A bemused smile broke out on Henderson’s face when asked about Mitchell, who will get a ton of playing time again in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens with starting corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne sidelined.
“It’s a good thing I don’t have hair with Mitchell,” Henderson said, removing his cap and rubbing his bald head, figuring Mitchell would make his hair fall out if it hadn’t already. “Oh, gosh. Never a dull moment.
“But I love his passion for the game.”
What does Mitchell do to wear out his position coach? Henderson said he doesn’t have enough time to list everything. It’s stuff like playing the proper techniques and alignments, paying attention to detail.
But Henderson wouldn’t be so hard on Mitchell if he didn’t see potential in the Oregon product.
“Shoot, you’ve got to have tough skin at this level and be able to accept criticism,” Mitchell said. “Man, it’s tough. I’m making my coach go crazy, but I’ve got to keep working. I show him some things here and there, and then I can be in the wrong place or something. That could just make him go a little crazy.”
Mitchell’s cocky personality -- he struts around the practice field and says his goal is to lead the team in picks as a rookie -- makes people notice him. So does his ability to make big plays, although he gives up too many of them, too.
Mitchell got toasted a couple of times during those practices with the Raiders. He also had several pass breakups and a remarkable pick, when he showed impressive catch-up speed and ripped a deep ball out of veteran receiver James Jones’ hands.
“I like Terrance Mitchell,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He has a lot of good traits for the position he plays. He has a really good demeanor. He’s got a competitive spirit. He loves to play the game. He’s not afraid of anything. But he’s a young player. He needs to get technically better with his feet, with his hands. He needs to understand the defense better, but he’s still a young guy.
“A lot of those things that he has are things we feel like we can build on. The tape is obvious when he’s not doing things the right way, and I think he’s understanding when I do it right, usually good things happen; when I don’t, usually bad things happen. But he’s got a nice fight to him and a nice spirit to him that you like, for anybody, particularly when you play out on that island.”