Malcolm Mitchell returning to the New England Patriots this season may still have life.

After a stellar rookie campaign where the Georgia product meshed with Tom Brady and the offense quite nicely, Mitchell found himself on IR to start his sophomore year due to a knee injury. He reportedly began running over a month ago which is clearly a step in the right direction and while speaking to the media back around Halloween Bill Belichick did keep the door open a crack for the wide out to come back.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss noted on Monday that Mitchell is scheduled to be evaluated this week and a source told him he’s “getting better, for sure.”

What’s noteworthy to watch with the Patriots and how they treat Mitchell going forward is that they only are able to now bring back one person off IR.

Under NFL rules teams are eligible to bring back up to two players, but because linebacker Shea McClellin began practicing with the team despite not returning they’ve used up one of those opportunities. One name that could threaten Mitchell’s spot with the IR return is defensive tackle Vincent Valentine.

In his rookie season Mitchell caught 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. He also was a major factor in Super Bowl LI particularly in the second half. For the game he finished grabbing six of his seven targets for 70 yards.

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