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News & Notes: Mitchell Emerging As Fifth Wide Receiver


Every training camp, there are young players who earn some buzz with strong practices. Then when the preseason games arrive, they fail to make an impression.

Last Thursday, Marko Mitchell had plenty of buzz as the Redskins wrapped up training camp. He had several nice grabs, including one against Carlos Rogers that had offensive players chirping afterwards.

"Carlos hasn't stopped Marko Mitchell this whole camp," Clinton Portis said.

The goods news for Mitchell? His practice success has translated to games.

In the Redskins' 17-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night at FedExField, Mitchell led the offense with three catches for 21 yards.

He scored the club's first touchdown of preseason on a 3-yard throw from Chase Daniel. It was a fade pass to the left corner of the end zone.

Mitchell leaped up for the ball ahead of Steelers cornerback Joe Burnett. Mitchell, who at 6-4 has five inches on Burnett, kept both feet in bounds for the TD catch.

"When I heard the play that was called, I kind of felt that Chase was going to come to me because I've built a lot of chemistry with him," Mitchell said. "He has enough confidence in me to know I would make a play for him."

Mitchell, a seventh-round draft choice by the Redskins last April, entered training camp working to refine his route-running. At Nevada last year, he made his mark as a deep threat, but with the Redskins he had to run shorter routes as part of the West Coast offense.

With the regular season just three weeks away, Mitchell has started to emerge as a front-runner to be the Redskins' fifth wide receiver on the roster.

The candidates include veteran D.J. Hackett and youngsters Keith Eloi and Marques Hagans. Hackett had one catch for 15 yards against the Steelers and Eloi had one catch for eight yards.

Mitchell may need to establish himself on special teams to solidify a roster spot.

For now, he is impressing the right people.

"He really has been conscientious about studying and he is getting what we're asking him to do," Jim Zorn said. "He's lining up correctly. He has been more explosive off the line of scrimmage than when he first starter. I would say he's gaining more confidence as he goes along."


Last year's NFL preseason rushing leader was Marcus Mason, who tallied 317 yards on 66 carries in 2008.

Mason got off to a slow start this year. In last week's preseason opener at Baltimore, he had just 12 yards on six carries in the Redskins' 23-0 loss.

Mason got back on track on Saturday night vs. Pittsburgh.

He led the offense with 45 yards on 11 carries and had an 18-yard scamper on the Redskins' first touchdown drive in the third quarter. He also caught two passes for eight yards in the game.

"Marcus came in here last year and did very well," Jim Zorn said. "It was hard to see him go, so that's one of the reasons that he is back. He works so hard he's earning his right to be here.

"The biggest problem we have is that we have a lot of running backs. So as we go along, things may work differently for him this year. We certainly hope it does."


At pre-game on Saturday night, there was some question whether Chris Samuels would be able to play against the Steelers.

The 10-year veteran left tackle has been experiencing sore knees during training camp.

Samuels ended up playing and "did great," Jim Zorn said.

"He and our athletic trainers put it all together and he had a good 20 plays," Zorn added.

Team officials expect to monitor his knee all season.

"The training camp takes its toll," Zorn said. "Once we get to the season and the practices are not as physical, that will help him."


Mike Williams sat out the Steelers game as he continues to rehab his sprained ankle. He received more treatment on his ankle during halftime of the game.

It's hoped that Williams will be available for this Friday's preseason game against New England.

"We're trying to get him ready," Jim Zorn said. "Hopefully he'll have a chance to prepare for the Patriots."

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