Eskimos find best use for Mitchell

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Derrell (Mookie) Mitchell is enjoying life with the Eskimos in a new role.

Picked up by Edmonton last year shortly after he was dropped by Toronto heading into training camp (after he refused a significant pay cut), Mitchell has become more of a go-to guy this year with the Eskimos.

With the departure of slotback Terry Vaughn, who signed with Montreal as a free agent in the off-season when the Eskimos decided they no longer needed him, Mitchell is now catching short, intermediate passes and making yards after the catch with his speed. It's what he did for 6 1/2 seasons in Toronto, beginning when he joined the Argos in 1997.

Heading into the game against his former team tonight at Commonwealth Stadium, Mitchell has a league-leading 42 catches for 607 yards.

"Last year I was one of the deep threats," Mitchell said yesterday. "I'm doing more of the five, 10-yard routes and getting what I can after the catch. And that's what I do. I'm happier.

"When I was here last year during training camp, I was the new guy on the block. I had to learn new faces, a new system, new terminology, and I think it was probably three or four games into the season when I really settled down."

Mitchell said it is a different feeling playing the Argos in his second season after the separation than the first.

"It's basically like business right now," he said. "I don't look at it as me against Toronto. It's Edmonton against Toronto right now."

But business aside, there's some people associated with the club who clearly haven't forgotten him. Head coach Pinball Clemons had developed a strong friendship with Mitchell during his time in Toronto. While Clemons understood the choices made by the Argos management and Mitchell's decision to leave the team, he still has a place in his heart for his friend. He mentioned him half-jokingly in his first statement to the media when asked a question that had nothing to do with Mitchell.

"I miss Mookie, did I say that out loud?" Clemons said.

The two hooked up last night to renew acquaintances.


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