ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -Brandon Jacobs saw a hole in the left side of the line and hit it. A split second later, the big halfback was stopped cold by Kawika Mitchell, the New York Giants' new linebacker.
Less than two weeks into training camp, Mitchell has shown he isn't afraid to hit anyone - and that he's having no problems making the adjustment from middle to weakside linebacker.
``It's been pretty easy, to tell you the truth. I don't have to worry about all the responsibilities,'' Mitchell said Tuesday. ``It's been nice. It's a lot of pressure off of me. I can just go out and make plays.''
Before signing as a free agent, Mitchell spent the previous four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He led the team in tackles each of the past two years, recording 135 in 2005 and 118 last season.
Despite the success, the Chiefs showed little interest in re-signing Mitchell. Nor did many other teams.
The Giants, who already had Pro Bowl middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, signed Mitchell to a one-year, $1 million contract. The understanding was that Mitchell would play outside linebacker, as the team had released Carlos Emmons and Brandon Short.
``I don't know what happened to him in free agency,'' Pierce said. ``I don't know why somebody didn't offer him a nice deal. Another man's trash is another man's treasure. I think we found one.''
The hit on Jacobs during Monday evening's practice was impressive considering that Jacobs has about three inches and 13 pounds on Mitchell.
Pierce smiled when asked about the hit on the bruising 6-foot-4, 264-pound halfback.
``Jacobs is a big boy and Kawika, he's got to set his tone to this team and what he brings to the team,'' Pierce said. ``I think that play was just a little bit of it. Nothing more than that. We're teammates, you can't go too far.''
With the one-year contract, Mitchell acknowledged this will be an audition year for him.
``It puts the NFL in perspective,'' the five-year veteran said. ``Every year is a tryout. Nothing is guaranteed in our contracts. That's how it is. This is the situation that was handed to me and I am going to make the best of it. You are always working for next year, and I do want that long-term deal.''
Mitchell likes new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's system. It's aggressive and there are plenty of plays for the weakside linebacker.
The only problem might be running into Pierce, who led the Giants last season with 159 tackles in earning his first Pro Bowl berth.
``He's an aggressive and athletic linebacker,'' defensive tackle Barry Cofield said of Mitchell. ``He has a great attitude and a lot of exuberance. You can definitely see the difference between him and a lot of the older guys we had in the past. Between him and Antonio, they are ball hawks. It will be interesting to see who ends up with more tackles.''
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