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Countdown to Colts Training Camp 2010: Fighting for roster spots- Mitch King

We continue with our countdown by switching gears and discussing a relative newcomer to the team, defensive takcle Mitch King from the University of Iowa.

King was signed to a future contract by the Colts last January, just prior to the Super Bowl. So, in essence, he's a 2010 roster pick-up after he was released from the Titans in late-September 2009 after spending much of the early season on injured reserve.

What can King bring to the table? Plenty, but he will need to truly stand out on both defense and special teams if he wants a spot on this team's active roster come September.

I can't find much information on why King was placed on the injured list after the Titans signed him to their practice squad last season. The injury is listed as "undisclosed" on KFFL. The only thing I can see noted on his training camp report from last year was he missed two practiced because of an illness.

One wonders if this illness is a reason why his injury situation remains "undisclosed."

Hopefully, we don't have another Corey Simon situation happening here. The one positive for the Colts is that, unlike Simon, the team does not have King rapped up in some kind of cap-killing contract.

King offers speed, and quickness that has been lacking since the days of Montae Reagor and a (younger) Raheem Brock. At 6'2, 280 pounds, he seems to fit what former-Colts coach Tony Dungy always liked in defensive tackles: Under 295, quick, and high motor. While not 300, King is still a scrapper, wiling to mix it up with anyone who challenges him. One of the more humorous stories about King at Titans training camp last year was this little incident:

The most entertaining scrap occurred later when defensive tackle Mitch King and offensive lineman Ryan Durand squared off. King looked like he knew what he was doing — at least until the very end. He backed up to give himself some room, then began throwing uppercuts and jabs before teammates broke it up. Teammates were impressed, until he took off his helmet and challenged Durand for more. "Keep your helmet on!'' safety Michael Griffin told King. "You don't ever take your helmet off (in a fight)!'' Rookie mistake.

In general, practice fights are dumb and counter-productive, which is why Tony Dungy forbid them at Colts camps when he ran the show. Jim Caldwell seems to have continued that brand of discipline. Practice is to get better, not fight among teammates. However, the positive one takes from King's fisticuffs at Titans camp is 1) Mitch is willing to beat-up a Titans player, which is always a plus, and 2) He's willing to take on a guy like Durand who is three inches taller than him and outweighs him by over 20 pounds

Gotta love the moxie!

We did a Who the hell will they draft? profile of King last year, and in addition to the rave reviews he got as a tough guy, it was the notes from his Senior Bowl workout that jumped out at me the most (via the Houston Chronicle):

Mitch King from Iowa was amazing off the snap in not only one-on-one drills but in the scrimmage portion too. He is so good with his hands that he blew away almost every guard who tried to block him. The problem for King is the he is a man caught in between DT and DE. He is much shorter than teams would like at DE and not heavy enough to be a starting DT right now. However, his pass rushing simply can't be ignored.

It is in the area of pass rushing, from the DT spot, that King must prove himself. In Larry Coyer's "tweaked" Tampa-2, the Colts enjoy using guys like Daniel Muir, Antonio Johnson, and Eric Foster in their regular DT rotation. These guys are pretty stout against the run, but offer limited options rushing the passer. If King can show he has some moves and provide a solid, consistent rush from the interior, it will most certainly lock up a roster spot for him. The Colts have been longing for an interior rusher for some time now, which is why the invested so much in Corey Simon and, later, Anthony McFarland.

Equally important to showcasing pass rushing moves is a willingness to consistently perform well on special teams. King is a quick player who, at times, plays with too much passion on the field. He often allows his emotions to spill out over into the next play (likely the reason for the dust-up in Titans camp last year with Durand). In college, King had a little bit of a rep for being a cheap shot artist. Don't know if it's true or not. What does seem undeniable is the kid's motor and high energy-style of play. He seems all in on every play. Such a mindset is ideal for special teams play.

Whether it's coverage or interior line play to block kicks, King has to show he can consistently perform well as a special teamer. Even if he goes out there in camp and starts abusing Kyle DeVan and Mike Pollak on pass rushing drills, he. will. not. make. the. active. roster unless he can play special teams. So, if you are going to camp in Anderson and you are on the fence about attending one of those afternoon practices devoted solely to special teams, consider going and watching Mitch King. How he performs in those practices could very well decide whether or not he's a Colt in 2010.