Yes, the Patriots will be missing one of their primary offensive weapons for the rest of the year. But they’re developing another offensive weapon, much earlier than they usually do.
Receiver Malcolm Mitchell, the only player to beat Darrelle Revis for two touchdowns in the same game, is the rare rookie receiver to make an impact for the Patriots.
“It’s just encouragement to go out there in practice and work harder and harder and harder so our team can be put in the best situations to win,” Mitchell said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.
Of course, Mitchell still only has 16 catches for 235 yards on the year, so he has a long way to go to be one of the team’s true playmakers. But he’s been making progress lately, and by the time the playoffs roll around he could be in position to contribute like something more than a rookie.
One key for Mitchell, a fourth-round draft pick from Georgia, has been learning how to get away from press coverage.
“He is catching everything in practice,” cornerback Eric Rowe said, via Howe. “We have tight coverage on him, especially in one-on-ones, and he is still making the catch. It could be a 2-yard gain, but the fact is he is still making the catch. I’ve seen that a lot better from him. At practice, I used to get really good jams on him at the line to kind of stun him, but now he is starting to figure out different types of releases so he won’t get stopped at the line, kind of get off the press and get open even better.”
It’s all part of earning the trust of one of the greatest quarterback in league history. Once Mitchell secures the faith of Tom Brady, Mitchell could further diversify an offense that will need all the help it can get with Rob Gronkowski likely done for the year.