Hometown Report

Hometown Report: Rookie hopefuls make presence felt at NFL camps

Joe Davidson
Joe Davidson

When it comes to speed, Terrance Mitchell tops out somewhere between frenetic and faster.

The Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback by way of Oregon and Burbank High School has been impressive in his first training camp, determined to make the final 53-man roster. Mitchell, led to believe he would be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft, gambled in bypassing his senior season with the Ducks. Instead, he went in the seventh round to Dallas, desperate for defensive stoppers and playmakers after surrendering the third-most yards in NFL history in 2013.

“He’s a natural competitor,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told Dallas media last week. “He scratches, claws, fights. Everybody’s mad at him because he takes every other rep in 1-on-1s. He keeps diving in there. But at the end of the day, that’s what you want. You want those kind of guys on your team.”

Still, there’s room for improvement.

“Technically, (Mitchell) has to become much more consistent,” Garrett said. “I think, emotionally, he needs to become more consistent. But you like the fight. You like the spirit.”

Mitchell’s fight was on display in the Cowboys’ exhibition opener in San Diego. He was called for holding in the end zone while covering wide receiver Malcom Floyd (River City High) on the Chargers’ opening drive and recovered a fumble at the goal line on the next snap. Mitchell had five tackles and was bowled over on a touchdown run by Branden Oliver.

Mitchell has seized his opportunity with Dallas thin in the secondary because of injuries, getting extra practice reps against Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ star wide receiver. Of camp in general, Mitchell said: “It’s been great, keeping me on my toes. I’m still getting my feet wet.”

Mitchell has always been an achiever. He gained 2,360 all-purpose yards at Burbank in 2009, scoring 24 touchdowns. He signed with Oregon and enrolled in the spring of 2010 after graduating early.

Texas has a hold on the Mitchell family. Mitchell’s first collegiate game was in Texas Stadium in 2011, against LSU. His sister Saycha was an all-conference soccer selection for Texas Southern.

Not short on confidence, Mitchell likes his chances to make the team.

“Swagger – it’s either in you or it’s not,” he said. “It’s just confidence. It comes from always playing up, starting from Pop Warner. I was always playing against older guys, and I always had a chip on my shoulder. I still play with that chip.”

• Rookie wide receiver

Jalen Saunders

(Pleasant Grove) has had mixed results at the New York Jets’ camp. The fourth-round pick from Oklahoma has made plays as a blocker and with his speed, and he’s been admonished for running wrong routes. He is one of 12 receivers on the 90-man camp roster.

“Jalen is a true football player,” Jets receivers coach Sanjay Lal told New York media. “He’s instinctive, he’s quick, he’s fast, and he’s tough.”

Et cetera


Dano Graves

(Folsom) is competing with

Chris Brown

for the quarterback job at Cal Poly. Both started games last season.

Tanner Trosin

(Folsom) was in the mix last year but has since transferred to American River College.


Stephen Moore

(Elk Grove) is the projected starter at left tackle for Cal, which is coming off a one-win season.


Harrison Wilfley

(Casa Roble, ARC) is competing for a starting defensive-line spot with Cal.

• Tight end

Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick

(Whitney) has been ruled academically ineligible at USC. He appeared in 12 games last season as a reserve.

• Tight end

Ryan Otten

(Del Oro) has shown promise in the San Diego Chargers’ camp as a wide receiver and blocker. An undrafted rookie free agent from San Jose State last year, he was in camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars.


Brandon Monroe

(Del Oro) has switched from linebacker to running back at San Jose State. The 2012 Bee Player of the Year, he’s known for his cutback ability and burst.


Alex Bertrando

(Del Oro) is a second-year starting linebacker for Nevada. He was an All-Mountain West Conference academic team pick in 2013.

• Shooting guard

Ryan Sypkens

(Franklin, UC Davis) signed a professional contract with Tunja Boyaca in Colombia. He is the most prolific three-point shooter in UCD history.