Kawika Mitchell, an 8-year NFL veteran who won a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants, became the newest member of the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, December 8.
The team signed the linebacker to an undisclosed deal after he impressed in a workout and a roster spot became available because the Saints put running back Ladell Betts on injured reserve, ending his season. The Saints did not need another running back because Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are back from injuries and both are expected to play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
"He had a good workout the other day," Coach Sean Payton said. "With the injury to (Stanley) Arnoux, we were able to bring in (Ramon) Humber as a special teams player; Kawika is a player that has a lot of experience and will number one give us depth and we'll look to see as we move forward how we can work him into our various packages. But he's someone with a lot of experience and we felt like his workout was very good."
Mitchell, 31, a South Florida product, was greeted at practice with the traditional new guy's welcome: 40 up-downs while the rest of the defense milled around him hurling invective until, upon completion of the grueling initiation, the defenders transform into a congratulatory mob.
"That's the first time I've been a part of something like that but it's alright," Mitchell said. "They've been giving it up for 12 weeks so I figure I can give them 40 up-downs."
Mitchell said he's ready for anything.
"I'm fortunate to be given this opportunity and I'm ready to do whatever is needed to help defend the title," Mitchell said. He did not return to the Giants in the 2008 season after they won the Super Bowl, and he said it's been instructive to see how serious the Saints are about their business after claiming their first NFL championship.
"It's good to be around and see what it's like the year after winning a championship," he said. "They're serious about getting another one."
Payton said Mitchell's ability to be an immediate contributor in special teams was a big plus and he left little doubt that is where the Saints expect to see him first. At the same time, Payton said the Saints won't hesitate to mix Mitchell into the defense as they enter the season's critical final four games.
In other personnel moves on the practice squad, the franchise signed running back Chris Taylor and released quarterback Sean Canfield.