- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

Marko Mitchell has the size. He’s 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds.

He has the speed. He runs 40 yards in about 4.4 seconds.

He has the hands. He caught 114 passes for 2,270 yards and 18 touchdowns during his final two seasons at Nevada.

“He’s got the tools,” veteran receiver Antwaan Randle El said.

But none of that means the seventh-round draft pick will become the productive, big receiver the Washington Redskins have longed for.

In 2007, the Redskins hoped former NFL starters Kevin Dyson and Todd Pinkston still had something left and that Anthony Mix, who played with Jason Campbell at Auburn, could team up effectively with the quarterback again. Dyson and Pinkston didn’t make it out of training camp. Mix didn’t catch a pass in five games and played mostly on special teams.

Last year, Washington used two of its top three draft choices on tall receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, but they combined for 18 catches as rookies.

Thomas and Kelly are expected to produce more in 2009. But with veteran James Thrash pondering retirement, Mitchell has a chance to make the team as the fifth receiver. Former Titans starter Roydell Williams, Marques Hagans (Virginia), practice squad veteran Trent Shelton and rookie free agents Jaison Williams and Keith Eloi are also in the mix.

Mitchell hasn’t been intimidated by competing against two-time Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall or running routes alongside 1,000-yard receiver Santana Moss.

“You watch the NFL on TV and see guys like Santana and DeAngelo,” Mitchell said. “Knowing that you can play on the same level with them is great. I was going to get DeAngelo one time, but a lineman knocked the ball down. I keep telling DeAngelo, ‘I gotta get you.’ It don’t matter what round you went in; if you can play, you can play.”

Since Mitchell has the physical gifts, all he needs to do is learn the offense.

“In college, the only thing you had to know was ‘You got this route, you just line up on top of the numbers,’ ” Mitchell said. “Here you have a 16-yard split, a 14-yard split, a 12-yard split and such on. In college, you basically had one different split. Here you got to study your stuff. You can’t just wake up and say, ‘I’m going to go out there and play.’ You gotta know what you’re doing.”

Unsure about Thrash

Coach Jim Zorn was asked about a report in Thursday’s edition of The Washington Times that Thrash might have to retire because of what the coach said was a bulging disk in the 34-year-old receiver’s neck.

“He would describe it as ‘Every time I turn [side to side], it grabs,’ ” Zorn said. “I don’t know where it’s going to end up yet, but he’s certainly good enough for us to wait and see. I want to be patient with that because he’s a tremendous teammate and means a lot to this organization. Before training camp, something will have to give.”

Landry still a no-show

Zorn said he is disappointed that safety LaRon Landry continues to boycott the voluntary portion of the offseason. Landry is the only player who hasn’t been at Redskin Park for anything besides the mandatory May 1-3 minicamp. The Redskins have four days of organized team activities remaining starting Monday.

“I fully expect him to be ready for training camp, go hard and have a great year,” Zorn said. “I’m not as concerned about him missing [OTAs] as being a part of what his teammates are doing and the kind of stuff we’re trying to implement. He’s going to be set back a little bit.”

Camp practices open

Seven of the Redskins’ 8:30 a.m. practices during the first nine days of training camp will be open to the public. The only exceptions will be Aug. 3 and 7. The open practices will culminate in an intrasquad scrimmage on fan appreciation day at 2 p.m. on Aug. 8.

Camp starts July 30.

Staff writer Ryan O’Halloran contributed to this article.

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