Mitchell (knee) returns to practice, giving Brady five WRs to work with

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Mitchell (knee) returns to practice, giving Brady five WRs to work with

FOXBORO -- Malcolm Mitchell was back at Patriots practice on Thursday after sitting out all of last week's workouts due to a knee injury. The rookie receiver appeared to be hobbled after making a reception against the Jets in the third quarter of his team's Week 16 victory, and he was not active for the regular-season finale in Miami. 

With Mitchell back in the fold, the Patriots now have five receivers to work with: Mitchell, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Michael Floyd. Amendola returned to practice on Thursday after missing every practice and game since injuring his ankle in a Week 13 win over the Rams. 

Will all five wideouts make the game-day roster when the Patriots host the Divisional Round of the playoffs on Jan. 14? That remains to be seen. In all likelihood, how the Patriots use their wideouts will depend on matchups and the overall health of all five players.

It would be possible that all five would dress, however. They each bring individual skill sets to the table, and in the case of Amendola and Edelman, there is some special-teams value within the position group as well. Activating all five may mean that multiple corners -- perhaps both Justin Coleman and Cyrus Jones -- or a back-up/special-teams contributor like Matt Lengel or Geneo Grissom may be forced out of the lineup in order to accomodate all five receivers. 

Tom Brady returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out of Wednesday's on-the-field work. Cyrus Jones, who has been dealing with a knee issue since last week, and Alan Branch were not spotted during the media-availability portion of the session.

Breaking down some of the Patriots' best NFL Draft decisions

Breaking down some of the Patriots' best NFL Draft decisions

Michael Holley and Tom E. Curran discuss the drafts/draft traits that stand out from the last 16 years of New England Patriots drafts.

Jimmy Garoppolo stays put as quarterbacks go high, Browns make moves

Jimmy Garoppolo stays put as quarterbacks go high, Browns make moves

For all the questions that surrounded the top quarterbacks in the 2017 draft, an early run on signal-callers still occurred. The Browns sat it out -- even facilitating another team’s selection of a QB -- yet Jimmy Garoppolo stayed put. 

Garoppolo not being traded ahead of or during the first round should not have come as a surprise; Adam Schefter has insisted throughout the offseason that the Patriots would not trade him for anything. Yet for the prices that were paid for QBs Thursday night, it’s still fascinating to think of what New England could have gotten for their backup. 

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The madness started nearly immediately. After Cleveland took Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett to open the draft, the Bears moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 -- trading third-and-fourth-round picks this year and a third next season to San Francisco -- to take UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky. 

At No. 10, it was the Chiefs moving up to the Bills’ spot, going all the way from No. 27 and giving up next year’s first as part of a package to secure Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Two picks later, the Browns were on the clock with Deshaun Watson still on the board, but they opted to trade the pick to Houston, who gave Cleveland the 25th overall pick this year and their first-rounder next year before selecting the Clemson star. 

The Browns, who have long been viewed as a logical potential destination for Garoppolo, made two more picks in the first round, choosing Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers 25th and trading back into the first round to make Miami tight end David Njoku their third first-round pick of the night at 29th overall. 

While the Browns obviously spent plenty of draft capital Thursday, they still have not addressed the quarterback position beyond Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan and trade acquisition (that’s a nice way of putting it; a more honest would be “salary dump acquisition”) Brock Osweiler. 

That leads Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot to believe that the Browns will still try to swing a trade for Garoppolo, who is entering the final year of his four-year rookie deal. Cabot writes that the Browns will “likely make a pitch for the Patriots backup,” though she too notes Scheffer’s insistence that Garoppolo isn’t going anywhere. The Browns now have two firsts and three seconds in 2018. 

The Patriots still aren’t slated to pick until the third round on Friday, when they’ll be on the clock with the 72nd overall pick.