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Mitchell makes return to Silverdome, expects the boo birds

The Associated Press

Scott Mitchell expects to hear a familiar response from the Silverdome crowd Friday night when the Detroit Lions host the Cincinnati Bengals in an exhibition game.

Friday, August 10, 2001

Scott Mitchell expects to hear a familiar response from the Silverdome crowd Friday night when the Detroit Lions host the Cincinnati Bengals in an exhibition game.

The Bengals’ quarterback won’t be surprised if he’s showered with boos, as he often was as a Lion from 1994-98.

”It will probably be the same as I always got,” Mitchell said. ”But there are lots of people who were supporters of mine and friends of mine. But I’m sure there are going to be the ones who will take great pleasure in giving me a hard time, which is fine.”

There’s a quarterback controversy in Cincinnati as there often was when Mitchell was in Detroit.

The Bengals would love Akili Smith, a first-round pick in 1999, to earn the job, but they don’t appear to be real confident in him. Smith will start against the Lions, but he will be followed by Mitchell and Jon Kitna, acquired from Seattle.

”This is what it’s all about,” Smith said. ”Everybody is out here competing, and competition brings out the best in everyone. May the best man win.”

Former Lions coach Bobby Ross deemed Charlie Batch the best man to lead the Lions after Mitchell played horribly against Cincinnati in the second game of the 1998 season.

He was dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart and Batch was promoted to starter.

Batch hopes to put three injury-plagued seasons behind him this season. He believes the West Coast Offense that first-year coach Marty Mornhinweg has installed will help him flourish.

”I’m excited to get out there and test what we’ve been practicing this past off-season on a different-look defense,” Batch said.

This exhibition game will mark Detroit’s first and the Bengals’ second this summer. The Bengals lost to Chicago 16-13 last week.

Cincinnati head coach Dick LeBeau, who took over in September of last year when Bruce Coslet stepped down, also will be in for a homecoming of sorts.

LeBeau was a Lions defensive back from 1959-72, and he set the franchise record with 62 interceptions. He said it doesn’t mean much to return to Detroit for the first time as a head coach.

”It did when I first quit playing,” said LeBeau, who was a Bengals assistant for 17 years. ”There were a lot of guys that I had played with and I actually had the sensation a couple of times when I looked down and I said, ‘Man, I’ve got on the wrong colors here.’ But those guys are long gone, and it’s a part of my past.

”I’m proud of the players that I played with and of the franchise I played for and in that sense it will always be meaningful. But my checks have been signed by the Cincinnati Bengals for a long time.”

Detroit’s Stockar McDougle (groin pull), Luther Elliss (elbow surgery) and Tracy Scroggins (sore knees) will not play.

Running back James Stewart will start, despite a hamstring pull, but he will be replaced quickly by former Michigan State star Sedrick Irvin.

Irvin is motivated to prove he belongs on the field, after struggling to earn playing time last season.

”I want to show the coaching staff that I’m a guy that makes plays,” Irvin said, ”a guy that’s humble and hungry, and I’m a guy that you can count on. And I’m a guy that’s ready to win.”