- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

Washington Redskins rookie cornerback Fred Smoot is expected to play tomorrow against the Seattle Seahawks, but veteran Darrell Green probably will remain the starter.

The roles are based on Smoot's inactivity the past two weeks because of a bruised lower leg and strained leg muscles and a desire to limit Smoot's chances of re-injury. If Smoot makes it through Sunday healthy, he will have next week's open date to rehabilitate fully.

Smoot practiced yesterday for a second straight day but looked "like a guy that hadn't played in awhile," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

Green is not a candidate to take Smoot's full-time starting job. Said Schottenheimer: "I think the roles are defined."

Smoot and Green will maintain their roles in nickel situations, with Smoot playing the outside receiver and Green moving inside to the slot. Green's experience and speed make him suited for the assignment.

Smoot, the 45th overall pick in April's draft, wouldn't call himself 100 percent. With that in mind, he was happy to yield the starting job this week.

"I'm real OK with it," Smoot said. "I can come in, slowly get myself back into football form, and then I've got another week to rest."

Among other injuries, defensive end Dorian Boose (knee) is unlikely to play.

Man in middle

Middle linebacker Kevin Mitchell is enjoying a solid season after playing special teams in 2000 for the Redskins and winning the starting job in this year's training camp.

Mitchell leads the team with 71 tackles, 13 more than the next highest Redskin, and has made three tackles for losses, one sack and one forced fumble. He also has earned high praise for his work ethic.

"He's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around," Schottenheimer said. "And over the last five or six weeks, he has really played well."

The turning point for Mitchell was a conversation with Schottenheimer early this season. Mitchell recalls playing tentatively, fearful of making mistakes, before the coach told him to loosen up.

"Marty said, 'If you're afraid to make mistakes, your job should be somewhere pushing a button because you can't make mistakes doing that,'" Mitchell said. "Ever since then, I've just had this attitude that whatever happens on one play, it's done."

Mitchell, 30, is starting for just the second time in his career. His first stint as a starter, in New Orleans in 1998, was cut short by a pair of torn MCLs (he tore one, played on it and then tore the other). He then didn't get much of a chance to beat Derek Smith with the Redskins last year.

"This feels good because I worked so hard for it," Mitchell said. "I probably overworked my body because I'm sore as heck. But that goes with the territory."

Extra points

Veteran linebacker Robert Jones is likely to make a second straight start on the weak side ahead of undrafted rookie Antonio Pierce. Both will see playing time. …

The Redskins will get an up-close look tomorrow at two rookies they considered in the draft, wide receiver Koren Robinson and guard Steve Hutchinson. Both have earned starting jobs with the Seahawks.

Robinson (N.C. State) wasn't as much of a consideration, because he was projected as a top pick and the Redskins didn't select until No. 15. Robinson, who has 16 catches for 224 yards, went No. 9.

Hutchinson (Michigan), who went No. 17, has solidified the left side of an offensive line that powers the NFL's seventh-ranked rushing offense.

The Redskins' first-round selection, wide receiver Rod Gardner (Clemson), leads NFL rookies with 24 catches for 437 yards. At guard, Washington shuffled personnel early but has settled on veterans Ben Coleman on the right side and Dave Szott on the left.

"We like Rod Gardner," Schottenheimer said. "I suppose if you had an opportunity to take [Gardner or Hutchinson] as we did, you take Rod. But we thought each was going to be an accomplished NFL player."

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