Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell has been on injured reserve since before the start of the season, but there’s still a chance he could be back.
As first tweeted by the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels, Mitchell was spotted in the Patriots locker room on Friday, which is sure to raise speculation that the Patriots could eventually move him off IR and back onto the roster.
The Pats have one more chance to activate a player from IR. They already burned their first of two moves on linebacker Shea McClellin, who briefly returned until re-aggravating the concussion problems that landed him on IR before the season. Mitchell went on IR just before the season with a knee injury, an issue that has been dogging him since his college days.
Mitchell would be a welcome addition to the Patriots’ wide receiver corps, which has been battling injuries and depth problems going back to Julian Edelman’s preseason ACL injury. Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett are the only two wideouts who have played in all 12 games for the Patriots in 2017.
It could also be a non-football-related reason that Mitchell was present in Foxboro. McClellin and Nate Ebner, who are both out for the season, were also spotted in the locker room, according to NESN’s Zack Cox.
Chris Hogan (shoulder) returned to practice for the Patriots this week and hopes to return on Monday night against the Dolphins. Mitchell is still further off, but with his possible return on top of Hogan, the wide receiver group is finally starting to look deep.
Mitchell caught 32 passes in 14 games (six starts) with 401 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. He also played a major role in the Patriots’ second-half comeback against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, making six catches for 70 yards.
It’s unclear whether Mitchell is close to returning yet, or whether he’ll be activated at all. The Patriots have been operating under the assumption that he won’t play this season. But his mere presence in the Patriots locker room is a promising sign.