Despite injuries suffered by right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and special teams ace Jonathan Jones on Saturday, all signs point to the New England Patriots entering the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in solid physical shape – something that has not always been the case this season. In fact, the Patriots could receive an additional boost today.
After all, today is the deadline for the team to active Malcolm Mitchell to the 53-man roster. If the second-year wide receiver gets called up before 4:00 p.m. ET, he is eligible to play in the Patriots' remaining postseason games. If not, he officially stays on injured reserve and his season ends despite being designated eligible to return off the list three weeks ago.
Mitchell was originally placed on injured reserve on September 7 because of a knee injury. The second-year receiver spent almost the entire regular season on the sidelines and was activated prior to the Patriots' week 17 game against the New York Jets. Since then, the 24-year old was regularly spotted at practice but has not yet been activated to New England's active roster.
In case he does get called up before today's deadline, Mitchell would add considerable depth and experience to a wide receiver group headed by Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola. In turn, however, the Patriots would need to make a corresponding transaction to free up a roster spot for him: Either a back-end-player like wide receiver Kenny Britt is released or someone is placed on injured reserve.
Mitchell is the second and final player to be declared eligible for return off injured reserve by the Patriots this season. The first, linebacker Shea McClellin, suffered a setback during practice and was never activated to the 53-man roster as a result. Later today, we will find out whether or not Mitchell joins McClellin's fate.