The explosive start by the Washington Redskins' offense, which has scored 112 points through three games, has some talking about the playoffs. And there's an air of confidence in the Redskins' locker room that was lacking much of last season.
But veterans Darrell Green and Brian Mitchell, who were both members of the Redskins' 1992 playoff squad, don't want to hear any playoff talk from teammates just yet.
"It has only been three games," Green said. "There's always that welling up of expectations and anticipation when the season begins. But obviously nobody around here better be jumping and spinning on their heads. We've got to take it one step at a time."
Added Mitchell: "We've only won two games, and we have 13 games left. We take each game at a time. That's how you get there, but you can't start talking about playoffs right now. That's the ultimate goal of everybody, but we have the Carolina Panthers coming in right now."
The 1996 Redskins got off to a 7-1 start before slumping to a 9-7 finish, narrowly missing the playoffs.
Looking for a Kick-Start
Mitchell, the Redskins' return specialist since 1990, is third in the NFC in punt returns, with an 11.2-yard average. But he has had a tougher time so far with kickoffs, averaging 20.6 yards per return -- his shortest since 1993. Coach Norv Turner dismissed any suggestion that Mitchell, who turned 31 in August, has lost a step. The problem, Turner said, has been inconsistent blocking.
"Brian looks to me quicker than he's ever been," Turner said. "We just need to do a better job on consistency. We have a bunch of guys getting blocks. But if one guy doesn't get the right block, you don't get the thing started."
Mitchell has returned seven punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns in his career. His longest return for a score -- a 101-yard kickoff return -- came in the Redskins' 24-20 victory over San Diego last year in Week 13.
Mitchell said if this year's start is causing fans to question his abilities, so be it.
"I guess everybody expects me to take one to the house every week, and that's not going to happen," Mitchell said. "Just because we haven't had a big return yet, people start second-guessing me. Second-guess me all you want. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. If it's 10 yards, I'm getting 10 yards. I can't get a touchdown every time. Soon as you start second-guessing me, I'll take one to the house, and then I'll be a hero once again." . . .
Safety Leomont Evans sprained his left knee during practice and was taken to the doctor for further evaluation, which revealed a mild sprain. Trainer Bubba Tyer said Evans is expected to play Sunday. . . .
Linebacker Derek Smith (shoulder) participated in practice without difficulty, as did right tackle Jon Jansen (sprained medial collateral knee ligament).