New England Patriots

Malcolm Mitchell (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Malcolm Mitchell returned to practice for the Patriots on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The second-year receiver could return from injured reserve as soon as Sunday against the Jets.

Mitchell has yet to play this season due to a knee injury, which has dogged him going back to his college days at Georgia. The Patriots now have 21 days to activate him from I.R., using their second return designation. They previously used their first on linebacker Shea McClellin.

The 24-year-old Mitchell emerged as a viable threat in the Tom Brady-led Patriots passing game in his rookie season. He caught 25 of 33 targets for 306 yards and four touchdowns over his final six games in 2016.

SEE ALSO: Malcolm Mitchell Spotted In Patriots Locker Room

Mitchell also came up big for the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, catching six passes for 70 yards. Five of his six receptions came in the fourth quarter, during which the Patriots battled back from a 28-9 deficit to tie the Falcons. Of course, they eventually closed the deal in overtime.

Malcolm Mitchell of the New England Patriots is tackled by Jalen Collins of the Atlanta Falcons after a catch in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Malcolm Mitchell of the New England Patriots is tackled by Jalen Collins of the Atlanta Falcons after a catch in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Giardi tweeted on Wednesday that a source tells him Mitchell has a “real chance” to make his season debut on Sunday against the Jets. But as you might expect, the Pats are taking a “day by day” approach with him.

How could Malcolm Mitchell help?

Especially in light of the injury to Chris Hogan, Mitchell’s return could present a strong, physical outside target for Brady. If his production in 2017 could even come close to what he did down the stretch in 2016, he can only help.

Mitchell is certainly a different kind of receiver than burners Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett. Furthermore, he could bring an added dimension to an offense that is excelling with Rob Gronkowski and reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week Dion Lewis as its top-two weapons.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff.