Brian Mitchell rebounded from one of his more frustrating weeks as a Washington Redskin with one of his better games, ripping off a 33-yard, third-quarter punt return against the New York Giants Sunday that set up a field goal eight plays later.
Mitchell's effort, aided by good blocking, drew compliments from Coach Norv Turner yesterday, the day after the 23-13 victory.
"He is still a very capable returner," Turner said. "Over the last three weeks, I think he's coming back because I think he's getting better blocking."
Turner had angered Mitchell the previous week by telling reporters he planned to divide kickoff-return duties between Mitchell and James Thrash before discussing the change with Mitchell. Turner and Mitchell have spoken since, but there seems to be lingering resentment from the incident.
"The way it was handled, I guess I'll never feel totally comfortable with it," Mitchell said. "I won't say it changed how I view the organization. I like the Redskins organization. I've always felt that I wanted to retire as a Redskin. But, you know, you never know. I think things have changed since I've been around here. I still view it as a good organization, and hopefully it continues."
In 1998, Mitchell averaged 11.5 yards on punt returns and 22.7 yards on kickoff returns. Through 10 games this season, he's averaging 8.0 on punt returns, 19.0 on kickoff returns.
Conway Foots Blame
With a day to reflect on his 3-of-6 field goal performance, Redskins place kicker Brett Conway attributed his struggles to an inability to hit the ball cleanly.
"You don't want to dwell on the bad," he said. "It was a bad game. I don't have any excuses for it."
The fact that the Redskins managed to win took the sting out of Conway's misses, from 38, 50 and 27 yards. Conway caught a profanity-laced earful from Turner on the sideline just the same and said he couldn't fault him for it.
"If I were the head coach, I would have yelled at my kicker just like Norv yelled at me," Conway said. "I'm the one who signed up for the job. I know the pressures and trials and tribulations that go along with it. I've just got to do a better job."
Westbrook May Be Re-Cast
X-rays of wide receiver Michael Westbrook's broken right thumb after Sunday's game showed that all bone fragments were in their proper places, so team officials will experiment with downsizing Westbrook's cast for next weekend's game against Philadelphia.
Westbrook, playing in his first game with the hard cast, was held to one reception for one yard. Quarterback Brad Johnson's first pass to Westbrook was short and low; Westbrook dropped the second throw but said his cast had nothing to do with the drop.
"It was a case of me trying to run without the ball because I knew it was a blitz, and I knew I had the whole field," Westbrook said. "I would have dropped it without the cast. I was just trying to make a plant and make a cutback because [the defender] was overplaying the out-route. It would have probably been a touchdown had I caught it."