Even before the 2017 regular season started, the New England Patriots have had to deal with some high-profile injuries. Wide receiver Julian Edelman and defensive edge Derek Rivers both tore their ACLs over the summer, while linebacker Shea McClellin and wideout Malcolm Mitchell were placed on injured reserve with a chance to get activated at a later point during the season – something the Patriots planned to do.
However, neither of the two players would see the field in 2017 as both suffered setbacks after being designated for the two injured reserve returnee spots. Second-year wide receiver Mitchell, who was dealing with an undisclosed foot injury, recently spoke with ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss about his recovery at a public reading in a bookstore 15 minutes from New England's Gillette Stadium.
“This entire season I missed, it was a very adverse situation,” the 24-year old said. “That obviously wasn’t something I wanted. It happens in football, just like situations happen in life that you have no control over.” Mitchell was coming off a promising 2016 rookie season during which he established himself as one of the Patriots' top four wide receivers and a trusted target for quarterback Tom Brady.
However, the injury halted his development and forced him to virtually sit out his sophomore year. “I read during that time,” Mitchell pointed out after Sunday's event. “It encouraged me to keep going. And this mission, for the second year, will be even bigger than last year regardless of how football season went. It’s two different missions: Become the best football player I can be, and make sure kids understand the importance of reading.”
“One won’t affect the energy I put in the other,” the former fourth round draft choice out of Georgia continued. “They’re both very, very important to me.” Mitchell's Read with Malcolm initiative deals with one of the two and aims at teaching children the power of reading: “Reading can help you overcome adversity, can help you overcome hard times, situations that you might have been placed in and had no control over. I believe reading helps us become the best we can possibly be,” the receiver said.
When it comes to his second passion and job, playing pro football, Mitchell acknowledged that he has a big offseason ahead of him. “This offseason will be big,” he told Reiss. “Obviously I missed all of last season and I won’t shy away from the importance of making sure I’m ready when we start OTAs.” As for his injury status, which will determine just how ready he will be, Mitchell said that he was “feeling great”.
Entering the offseason, Mitchell will be a part of a deep wide receiver group that features Brandin Cooks, the above-mentioned Edelman and Chris Hogan as the top three options, with Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt as the depth players. Fellow wideout Danny Amendola, an unrestricted free agent, is a likely candidate to re-join to the group and bring competition to the table when it comes to playing time within the offense. Being at full health and ready to partake in all workouts will therefore be a key for Mitchell this year.