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Freddie Mitchell must put up or shut up

2003 is crucial for Freddie Mitchell

<B>Flamboyant, confident, cocky and outspoken are just a few words to describe Eagles third year receiver Freddie Mitchell. From Southern California, Freddie Mitchell sure has that Hollywood attitude, but his game doesn't approach his mouth. Last week on Philadelphia Sportsradio 610 WIP, Mitchell exclaimed that he is "The best receiver in the game". If Mitchell is indeed the best receiver in the NFL, he has yet to prove it.</B>

Freddie Mitchell has been a disappointment. He was the Eagles first round selection in the 2001 draft and has not lived up to expectations the team had for him after his career at UCLA. His mouth and "confident" attitude have surpassed his play on the field by leaps and bounds, and this year he must prove himself, just to win a job. Despite his poor performance, Mitchell still finds time to talk it up without the production to support what he says.

Last Wednesday, Mitchell made an appearance on WIP to talk about the upcoming season. During his interview, Mitchell proclaimed himself "The best Wide receiver in the game" he continued that, " since I haven't had the chance to play, I have not yet been able to prove myself". Mitchell has a rough road ahead of him if he plans to prove himself, in an Eagles uniform in 2003.

Every year Mitchell forges his spot on the roster with a solid training camp, or with solid performances in pre-season games. It always appears as if Mitchell impresses the coaching staff with a few acrobatic catches, some speed in training camp and of course his attitude. If Mitchell has plans of staying in Philadelphia he'll need more then just attitude this time around.

There are certain aspects of Mitchell's game that need improvement. One of Mitchell's drawbacks has been his inability to get off the line of scrimmage, and beat defensive backs down the field. This is something that Freddie must show the ability to do early on. Even if he plays his best football in camp this year, that still does not guarantee him a job. For once, there is some competition at this spot, with players already on the team, let alone the possible reacquisition of Antonio Freeman, or another receiver who may become available.

For the first time in memory, there is a legitimate competition at wide receiver on this team. Mitchell is already battling 2003 third round pick Billy McMullen for the third receiver spot, and from minicamps, it appears McMullen may have the upper hand. McMullen is the prototypical slot receiver; he's big, has big hands and can catch the ball over the middle of the field. If Mitchell falters, McMullen is poised to take his spot in the starting lineup. It is no secret that McMullen is the slot receiver for the future, but it's just a matter of when the future begins.

Andy Reid obviously saw something in Mitchell during his collegiate career at UCLA, or he wouldn't have used a first round selection to acquire him. However, if Mitchell continues to run his mouth, without improving his game he will wear out his welcome in Philadelphia quite quickly. This goes beyond impressing coaches in training camp or in a few meaningless pre-season games. Mitchell must produce for this team when it counts. If he doesn't, well, the future may begin sooner than Freddie wishes.

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