'Skins Green, Mitchell shrug off Pro Bowl snub Veterans on surging team focus on Bucs' visit today

December 19, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Brian Mitchell was mostly calm this week when he was left off the NFC Pro Bowl team.

Darrell Green was philosophical and far from devastated after being snubbed in his bid for an eighth trip to Honolulu.

But that will all change today when Mitchell and Green take the field for the Washington Redskins (5-9) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7) at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium at 4: 15 p.m.

The two proud Redskins veterans will come out fighting and scratching for their Pro Bowl reputations as they have throughout their careers.

"Every time I step out there, I'm trying to be an All-Pro," said Green, 38, who once vowed to still be playing at a high enough level to make the Pro Bowl in the year 2000. "Just because I didn't make the Pro Bowl won't change my thinking at all about my ability. I've been there [to the Pro Bowl seven times] and done that. To try to analyze why I didn't make it, there isn't much to say."

Mitchell, 30, scoffed at suggestions that his love for trash talking on the field hurt his bid for a second Pro Bowl trip.

"If someone is not going to vote for me because I talk a lot is unbelievable," said Mitchell. "I'm going to play my game and talk as much trash as I always do. A lot of guys talk trash and as long as they can back it up, it's no big deal."

Green and Mitchell both have had Pro Bowl-type seasons and would have most likely been named by the players, coaches and fans if not for the team's horrendous 0-7 start.

It seems as if no one has been looking lately as the Redskins have been one of the hottest teams in the league with a 5-2 surge.

The 5-2 run puts Washington in a position to pull off the most successful turnaround from an 0-7 start in the history of the NFL. The 1978 St. Louis Cardinals rallied from 0-7 to finish 6-10.

A lot of people figured Green probably sewed up a Pro Bowl berth three weeks ago when he made that spectacular dash to catch Oakland's speedy 25-year-old running back Napoleon Kaufman from behind and prevent him from scoring a touchdown.

Green has intercepted two passes in the last three games for 46 in his career and continues to frustrate most of the top receivers in the league with his knowledge, tenacity, hustle and speed.

Said Washington wide receiver Leslie Shepherd: "Darrell deserves to go to the Pro Bowl the way he has been running down people. Randy Moss is having a great year for Minnesota and he didn't get much done against Darrell. I have to think his age might have hurt him among the players because guys were thinking he was good when they were in the seventh grade and can't still be good."

Dallas' Deion Sanders, Atlanta's Ray Buchanan and Arizona's Aeneas Williams were the cornerbacks chosen to the NFC squad.

For the fiery Mitchell, some imposing statistics support his Pro Bowl bid as a kick returner. He leads the NFL with 2,135 total combined net yards, owns a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and is averaging 23.9 yards a kickoff return. Mitchell has returned 41 punts for 460 yards but has no touchdowns in that category.

Green Bay's Roell Preston, who spent a week with the Redskins last season, was selected as the NFC kick-return specialist. Preston leads Mitchell in kickoff return average (26.9 to 23.9), but Mitchell is ahead of Preston in punt-return average (11.2 to 8.7).

The only Redskins player to make the Pro Bowl was punter Matt Turk, who was named for the third straight season on the strength of an NFC-leading 39.7-yard net punting average.

Pub Date: 12/19/98

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