After showing promise as a New England Patriots rookie, Malcolm Mitchell’s NFL career hit a roadblock in 2017.
The young wide receiver suffered a knee injury during the preseason, was placed on injured reserve hours before New England’s regular-season opener and never returned to the 53-man roster. He wound up missing the entire season, returning to practice in December but never reaching a point where he was healthy enough to be activated.
With that arduous year now behind him, Mitchell has his sights set on a 2018 comeback.
“I’m feeling great,” he told ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss on Sunday. “This offseason will be big. 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.”
Mitchell’s comments came during an event at the Unlikely Story bookshop in Plainville, Mass. The wideout, who wrote a children’s book titled “The Magician’s Hat” during his time as a student-athlete at the University of Georgia, promotes reading through his “Read With Malcolm” foundation.
“This entire season I missed, it was a very adverse situation,” Mitchell said. “That obviously wasn’t something I wanted. It happens in football, just like situations happen in life that you have no control over. I read during that time. 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. They’re both very, very important to me.”
Mitchell played in 14 games during the 2016 season, catching 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. He added another six catches on seven targets for 70 yards in Super Bowl LI.
The Patriots are stacked at receiver entering this offseason, as Mitchell, Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt and practice squadders Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister all are under contract through 2018.
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