The Inside Slant

All Kevin Mitchell wanted was a fair shot. In his three Redskins seasons, he felt he only got that once--a year ago when he earned the starting job. But three years ago he felt he was jilted by Norv Turner, who said Mitchell would have a shot at the job then suddenly declared it over.

And this year Mitchell just wanted to compete with Jeremiah Trotter for the middle linebacker's position. Of course Mitchell knew what Washington had paid to land Trotter. But Mitchell felt worthy of starting and the lack of competition hurt him.

Now he's back in the middle after a season of soul-searching, which included several talks with veteran corner Darrell Green who talked about how he had to handle his situation two years ago with Deion Sanders. Mitchell, a free agent after the season, eventually came to grips with his situation.

''It's been frustrating not getting any time. But God gave me peace early in camp and I believed He would give me an opportunity. I didn't think it would be like this. I thought we'd go to a 3-4.

''I've been hungry for this. Unfortunately it came the way it did--Trots a good friend of mine and you don't want your friend to get hurt. It's not that big a deal for me because I've been there before so I'll just do what I've done.

''I look at this like it's an audition tape. I'll play as hard as I can and still try to make the playoffs. There's a lot of things to prove to a lot of people so I'll go out and do the best job I can. I'm playing for the future, if not here then to have other teams look at what I can do on the field. It's your resume, that's how I look at it.

''I won't play with a chip on my shoulder. I'll go out with something to prove to a lot of people and a little to myself.

''But I wasn't frustrated with how things went down. It's not my team, I just play here and I'll do what I'm asked to do. I thought I did well enough last year to get another opportunity to at least fight for the job. Bringing someone in . . .that's not what I expected and I didn't want to go out that way.

''It's been a hard three years since I've been here. But trials and tribulations come to everyone. You just have to make the best of them. Now this is a chance for me to put up some good film.

''But I'm playing for a win, too. Things are still in the air and 9-7 might get us a wild card. We might be able to sneak in. I'm playing for that first.''


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