Malcolm Mitchell

Patriots Won’t Activate Malcolm Mitchell

The Patriots have decided against activating Malcolm Mitchell in advance of the Wednesday deadline, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. That means that Mitchell will be out of action for the AFC championship game as well as the Super Bowl, should the Patriots make it. Malcolm Mitchell (vertical)

This was the expected outcome as Mitchell did not suit up for Wednesday morning’s practice. Ideally, the Patriots would have liked to have the 24-year-old on the field. As a rookie in 2016, Mitchell had 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns. This year, he was set to have a larger role in the offense before a nagging knee injury sidelined him in the preseason.

The Pats brought Mitchell back on the practice field in late December, giving them three weeks to decide whether to activate him. In theory, the Patriots could have put him on the 53-man roster and left him on the bench for the AFC title game, giving them the option of playing him in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks. Ultimately, they felt that they would rather preserve their depth elsewhere with a healthy player.

Heading into the big game against the Jaguars, the Patriots still have a solid cast of receivers including Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Kenny Britt, Dwayne Allen, and Chris Hogan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Don’t Activate Malcolm Mitchell For Divisional Round

While the Patriots have been without second-year wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell for the entire season, the 2016 fourth round pick has been inching closer to a return in recent weeks. However, the team chose not to activate him for this weekend’s playoff matchup vs. the Titans, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.

Malcolm Mitchell (vertical)

Mitchell, 25, had a productive rookie campaign, collecting 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns. He was set to become even more impactful for this past regular season, but was forced to the injured reserve during the preseason because of a nagging knee injury.

Since Mitchell returned to practice on December 27, that means he has until next week for the team to make a decision on his availability should they move onto the AFC Championship next Sunday. The team can place him on the active roster as a player designated to return from injured reserve.

Even without Mitchell, the Patriots are now mostly healthy in terms of playmakers entering Saturday’s contest. While the team is missing Mitchell and Julian Edelman, Tom Brady will have the likes of Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Kenny Britt, Dwayne Allen and Chris Hogan, who will be returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for seven of the team’s final eight games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Malcolm Mitchell Returns To Practice

Malcolm Mitchell returned to practice on Wednesday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter), and could be in line to provide an additional weapon for the Patriots in the playoffs.

The second-year wide receiver represents the Pats’ second IR-return designation this season. He’s missed the entire season because of a knee injury.

Mitchell’s return surprises somewhat since earlier this month reports out of New England weren’t optimistic about the wideout playing this season. He caught 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns last season and made six receptions for 70 yards in Super Bowl LI.

The current Pats are likely headed toward their second straight No. 1 seed but don’t have the wide receiver depth they had last season. Julian Edelman‘s out for the year, and Chris Hogan has missed most of the Patriots’ second half of the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Browns, Mayfield, Pats, Cards

New Browns general manager John Dorsey still has more than five months to formulate plans for the 2018 draft, but he’s watched six games of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and come away impressed, according to Peter King of TheMMQB.com“I want to be able to project and articulate my opinion when the time comes and it matters,” Dorsey said. “I saw [Mayfield] at Kansas this year, in the OU-Kansas game. You’re darn right he’s a good quarterback, no matter how tall he is. Some would say he’s too short, but I would ask you: How tall is Russell Wilson? How tall is Chase Daniel?” Cleveland appears to be lock to boast two top-10 selections in next year’s draft, meaning the club will have a chance at finding a franchise signal-caller.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is not expected to return to the Patriots‘ active roster this year, tweets Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, which could have led to New England signing free agent pass-catcher Kenny Britt, opines Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Mitchell, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has been on injured reserve for the duration of this season while dealing with a knee injury. Britt, meanwhile, stands 6’3″, 223 pounds, meaning he’ll give the Patriots a larger presence on the outside. As Reiss notes, New England made a similar late-season addition a year ago, claiming physical wideout Michael Floyd off waivers for the stretch run.
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians admitted he has “no idea” if Adrian Peterson will recover from his neck injury in time to play again this season, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Peterson, 32, has been up and down since being dealt to Arizona, as he’s topped 75 yards in half his six games as a Cardinal but failed to top two yards per carry in the other three contests. With a 6-7 record in a stacked NFC playoff picture, Arizona doesn’t have much to play for down the stretch, so it could conceivably shut Peterson down. He’s under contract for 2018 at a cost of $3.5MM, a figure that could be untenable given the return of David Johnson in 2018.
  • Rival teams are showing interest in Raiders practice squad defensive lineman Fadol Brown, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). On Wednesday, the Raiders opted to promote Darius Latham to provide depth up front, meaning other clubs still have a chance to pounce on the Ole Miss product. Brown, an undrafted rookie, has spent the entirety of the 2017 campaign on Oakland’s practice squad. In a predraft profile, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said Brown “sets a strong edge” in the run game but is a poor pass rusher due to “lazy” hands.
  • Former general manager Scot McCloughan‘s grievance against the Redskins could cause problems for the club’s scouting staff (every member of which could be asked to testify), a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If Washington’s personnel members favor McCloughan, they could potentially face retribution from current ream president Bruce Allen, but if the scouts speak in favor of the Redskins, they fear other teams — who possibly enjoy a relationship with McCloughan — may not hire them in the future, per Florio. The hearing for McCloughan’s grievance is set to begin next Monday, December 18.

East Notes: Jets, Petty, Giants, Cowboys

This is Bryce Petty‘s last call to prove that he can be the Jets‘ quarterback in 2018 and beyond, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes.

I have all the confidence in the world in Bryce,” center Wesley Johnson said this week. “He’s great in the huddle, he’s great in the locker room and I know he works hard. He prepares like a starter every week, so I’m not worried about him at all. I’m actually excited for the opportunity that he could get.”

While some of Petty’s teammates believe in him, the same can’t necessarily be said for team brass. Petty was a draft pick of the previous regime and he has only a small sample of real NFL work to show the new bosses. In his latest outing against the Broncos, Petty failed to impress, so he’ll have to turn it up in the final games of the season if he wants to stay in New York.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Ernie Accorsi is helping the Giants in their search for a new GM and if history is any indicator, it won’t take long to make a hire, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Raanan rightly notes that Accorsi drew from a small pool of candidates when he helped the Panthers (2013), Bears (2015), and Lions (2016) make their respective choices. In each case, a hire was made roughly one week after the conclusion of the regular season.
  • Giants owner John Mara says the league will discuss changes to the “composition” of the Compensation Committee at the league meeting in March (Twitter link via Jim Trotter of ESPN.com). The Compensation Committee is currently comprised of six owners with Falcons owner Arthur Blank acting as the group’s leader. Up until recently, Cowboys boss Jerry Jones served as an unofficial seventh member.
  • Jones says that the incentive-based structure of Roger Goodell‘s new contract will force him to deliver big results for the league. “If Roger comes in and knocked it out of the ballpark, he’ll really be rewarded,” the Cowboys owner told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “You’ve got to hope that he has that kind of performance. There are no easy layups here on his bonuses. He’s got to come in there and lead the division in high scoring.” Goodell’s new contract is said to be 90% incentive-based and will take him through the 2024 season. After that, the NFL says Goodell will step aside.
  • The Patriots are not expecting wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell to return from IR in time for the end of the regular season or the playoffs (Twitter link via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald).

East Rumors: DRC, Marshall, Cowboys

Let’s take a swing around the league’s East divisions:

  • In keeping with reports from several days ago, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Giants CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will miss Big Blue’s matchup against the Broncos this week, but he will be back for next week’s game against Seattle, which means he will have served just one game of a possible four-game suspension.
  • Giants WR Brandon Marshall, who is out for the season due to an ankle injury, has no plans to retire, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Said Marshall, “I’m a competitor, and I don’t want to go out like that. I’m definitely not going out like that.” The report does not come as a major surprise, as Marshall indicated when he signed his two-year deal with the Giants that he would retire at the end of that contract, which expires after the 2018 season.
  • Former Dolphins OL coach Chris Foerster has checked into a rehab facility in Miami, per Schefter. Foerster’s decision comes less than a week after his resignation from his post with the Dolphins following publication of a video that shows him snorting a white, powdery substance off a desk in the Dolphins’ training facility. Should another NFL club try to hire him in the future — and he had been in demand in the past — he would be subject to league discipline.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that Patriots LB Shea McClellin, who is eligible to begin practicing this week after opening the season on IR, appears to be close to returning to the field. WR Malcolm Mitchell , however, is not close to returning, and he may not be back this year. DT Vincent Valentine, who went on IR on September 22, could be back at some point this season.
  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has become a vocal member of the anti-protest contingent in the NFL, and according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, that is creating anger and frustration in the team’s locker room. The anthem issue had not been a hot topic among the Cowboys before Jones’ public statements on the matter, but Jones has helped to make it one, which is not good for a team that already has plenty of on-field concerns.
  • Despite a great deal of confusion on the matter, we learned earlier today that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott will remain suspended unless and until he receives an en banc hearing from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the temporary restraining order that was previously issued is reinstated. The odds of that happening are pretty slim.

Patriots To Place WR Malcolm Mitchell On IR

The Patriots are placing wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell on Injured Reserve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). "<strong

Mitchell, selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft, had a strong rookie campaign for New England, catching 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, he was slowed by a knee injury in Week 16 last season and was sidelined until midway through the postseason. The injury bug has gotten him once again, this time just hours before the 2017 season kickoff.

Mitchell has a strong rapport with Tom Brady, so the Pats would like to bring him back off of IR, if possible. If he can recover from his injury during the year, the Patriots can use one of their two IR-DTR spots to return him to the roster after eight weeks.

New England’s trade for 2015 Colts first-rounder Phillip Dorsett makes more sense now. While Dorsett has proven little as a wide receiver, he could be in line for some work soon now that Mitchell’s out. And despite his lack of a reputation for pass-catching competency, Dorsett still caught 33 passes for 528 yards last season. He and Danny Amendola are likely to join more prominent performers Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan as auxiliary targets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Luck, Henne

The Patriots‘ best chance to replace the bruising and punishing running of LeGarrette Blount, who was a key part of the team’s success over the past few seasons, could come from a surprising source. In his first attempt to predict the Patriots’ 53-man roster, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe says that UDFA LeShun Daniels, Jr. might be the best-equipped of New England’s stacked running back group to fill Blount’s void. McBride does not believe Daniels will make the team out of camp, writing that he is more likely a practice squad candidate at the moment, but the future is bright for the 6-foot, 225-pounder, who excelled in his senior season at Iowa.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was kept on the sideline during spring practices, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says there is nothing to worry about. Mitchell has a more extensive injury history than many second-year players, and New England is handling his workload accordingly to ensure they can keep him healthy for the long haul.
  • We heard earlier this week that Andrew Luck may not be ready for training camp, leading some to wonder if he is also in danger of missing the start of the regular season. Kevin Bowen of Colts.com, however, does not believe that’s the case. Bowen says that if the team was really concerned about Luck’s availability for Week 1, the team would have brought in a veteran QB to compete with backup Scott Tolzien.
  • Alex Marvez of NFL.com tweets that Chargers linebacker Nick Dzubnar is completely healed from the ACL tear that prematurely ended his 2016 season. Dzubnar has primarily served as a special teams contributor during his first two years in the league, but he has performed very well in that role.
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union takes his first crack at predicting the Jaguars‘ 53-man roster, and there do not seem to be any major surprises there. One point of intrigue is the quarterback position, as O’Halloran speculates that second-year signal-caller Brandon Allen, who was good enough in camp and the preseason last year to convince Jacksonville to keep a third QB for the first time since 2013, could unseat longtime backup Chad Henne.
  • Earlier today we took a look at a few notes on the Steelers and Browns.

Malcolm Mitchell Could Play Next Week

The Patriots were able to survive last night’s playoff matchup with the underdog Texans, but New England’s offense was uncharacteristically sluggish and the 34-16 final score did not tell the full story. Luckily for the Pats, however, rookie wideout Malcolm Mitchell could be returning for the AFC Championship Game next week. Per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (via Twitter), there is “strong optimism” that Mitchell could be back for the game that could catapult New England to yet another Super Bowl appearance.

Dec 4, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (19) is tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive back Michael Jordan (35) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

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Mitchell, who was selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, put together a nice rookie season, catching 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. He demonstrated an early aptitude in grasping New England’s unique offensive scheme, and he was able to carry that success into the regular season.

However, Mitchell suffered a knee injury in the team’s Week 16 contest against the Jets and was inactive for the Week 17 tilt against the Dolphins. After being limited in practice in the week leading up to last night’s divisional round playoff game, Mitchell was officially deactivated prior to kickoff. Newly-acquired Michael Floyd saw a pass bounce off his hands for an interception last night–although the throw was not an especially good one–so Mitchell, who has established a strong rapport with Tom Brady, could take back some of the slot receiver snaps that Floyd has enjoyed in Mitchell’s absence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Pats, Bruton, Eagles

The Patriots‘ vaunted offense is not for everyone, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Indeed, accomplished veterans and highly-drafted receivers alike have often struggled to adapt to New England’s unique offensive scheme, and current wideout Danny Amendola–who has not been immune to those struggles himself–explains why. Said Amendola, “In our offense, especially at the wideout position, it’s all about feeling. It’s about trying to find open space, using your eyes…In our offense, it’s kind of like if you take away all the street signs on the road and you kind of just drive — you yield and stop at an intersection just by what you feel and what you see with your eyes.”

It makes sense, then, that there would be growing pains for young receivers, regardless of the scheme their college might have run. Only a select few players have been able to establish a consistent rapport with Tom Brady over the years, but thus far 2016 fourth-rounder Malcolm Mitchell has shown an early aptitude in making the transition that has baffled so many others.

Let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com takes a way-too-early look at the Eagles‘ draft needs for 2017, a list that is currently headlined by the offensive tackle position. Philadelphia looks as if it will field the oldest offensive line in the league for the second consecutive season, and with Jason Peters‘ career coming to an end soon, the Eagles will need to continue to stock up on bookends.
  • Former Broncos safety David Bruton, who signed a three-year deal with the Redskins in March, was brought to Washington to bring some semblance of stability to the team’s safety position, an area that has been a consistent weakness for the Redskins over the past decade. Both Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com believe that Bruton will open Week 1 as the starter at strong safety over former Denver teammate Duke Ihenacho, particularly since Bruton has been taking virtually all of the first-team snaps at the position in offseason workouts. But, as is always the case with Washington’s safety depth chart, the situation will remain fluid.
  • Anthony Chiang of PalmBeachPost.com takes a look at where each of the Dolphins‘ 2016 draft choices stand entering training camp. Both Laremy Tunsil and Xavien Howard, the team’s top two selections, have a good chance to become starters in their rookie campaigns, but both will need to make considerable strides in training camp to do that. Third-rounder Leonte Carroo, meanwhile, might have been the most impressive rookie in offseason workouts and already looks primed for a significant role in Miami’s offense.