Mitchell drops ball, but not his principles


WASHINGTON -- The most surprising scene in the Washington Redskins' locker room yesterday was Brian Mitchell standing in front of his locker speaking to wave after wave of reporters.

Mitchell wasn't going to hide from reporters even though he fumbled a punt to give the Seattle Seahawks their first touchdown and dropped three passes in the 28-7 loss.

"I face up to my problems," he said. "That's one thing my dad and my mom always taught me. You make a mistake, you face up to it. If you don't face up to it, I'll read it in the paper all week. You face up to it, you get it out of the way. . . . I could have fumbled eight times, I'd still be here talking. It's my job to talk to you. If I do good, I'm going to sit here and talk to you. Why not do the same when I do bad?" he said.

Mitchell said he didn't realize he had drifted back to the 5-yard line to field the punt he fumbled. "The way the punt was coming down, you look at it as a returnable ball. I didn't think I had backed up that far," he said.

He said he didn't drop the passes because he was brooding about the fumbled punt.

"Maybe I looked off or the pass wasn't right there and I was trying to break off [the route]. They had nothing to do with the fumble. I forgot about the fumble when it happened. I thought about it again after the game because I knew that I put the team in a bad position. One thing about me, I don't let things bother me. Hey, if you make a mistake, you make a mistake, nothing can be done about it," Mitchell said.

Mirer feels for Shuler

Seattle quarterback Rick Mirer, who started his first game last year as a rookie even though he missed training camp time in a holdout, could feel empathy for Washington rookie Heath Shuler, who completed three of eight for just 14 yards in his first game.

"I see a lot of similarities between Heath and myself," said Mirer, who was 17-for-28 for 183 yards. "When he gets in trouble, he's not afraid to use his athleticism. He's going to go through a lot of what I went through last year. . . . It just takes time," he said.

Casillas to the rescue?

Coach Norv Turner said the Redskins are talking about signing defensive lineman Tony Casillas, although it may be difficult to fit him under their salary cap. Casillas signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent and then returned his signing bonus and was declared a free agent.

Turner said: "I think we'd be interested. I know there's been a lot of talk and all that. Everyone knows what our situation is with the cap and he makes a lot of money."

They might have to cut salaries to sign Casillas and defensive coordinator Ron Lynn said jokingly, "Mine might be one they want to cut after today."

Not flagging down an excuse

Even though Leonard Marshall said the officials made a bad call on a roughing-the-passer penalty that kept Seattle's third touchdown drive alive, Turner said he wouldn't complain about it. "When you win a game, you don't ever remember a drive was

kept alive by a late hit," he said.

Life after Gibbs

Stat to remember: The Redskins' record since Joe Gibbs quit -- 4-13. In his last 17 regular-season games, they were 9-8.

Warren stars in homecoming

Chris Warren, a native of Burke, Va., had a big homecoming with a 100-yard game. He said: "I thought we started to wear them down in the middle of the second quarter. We kept pounding away and the line was opening big holes for me."

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