FOXBOROUGH — The season finale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” couldn’t have come at a better time for Malcolm Mitchell. The Patriots rookie wide receiver knows he can’t be watching TV when he should be studying his playbook.
“I do love that show,” Mitchell said Sunday. “But it ended right before training camp started, so lucky me.”
Mitchell missed Saturday’s practice — the team’s first featuring contact drills and full pads — and said it was a “phenomenal feeling” to finally put his pads on as a Patriot. Even in pouring rain, the fourth-round pick out of the University of Georgia reeled in passes from the trio of New England quarterbacks with ease.
“Just seeing all the guys operate is impressive,” Mitchell said. “Of course everybody’s professional, everybody makes plays, but it’s one thing to see just a team operate on TV, and then see it in person, and then you work as hard so hopefully you can operate just like they do.”
The 23-year-old Mitchell also has been impressed by the attention to detail throughout the organization.
“Everything matters,” he said. “From what you eat, to how you hydrate, to the amount of rest you get, to the amount of time you spend doing plays, there’s not a single thing — the cleats you wear, from how you strap on your pads, to your mouthpiece — there’s not a piece that goes unnoticed.
“And that, by far, is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen thus far in my young life. To see something so detailed, and you immediately understand why the Patriots are who they are.”
In four seasons at Georgia, Mitchell racked up 2,350 yards on 174 catches. He scored 16 touchdowns as a Bulldog and recorded four games of more than 100 receiving yards. He ranks third on Georgia’s all-time receptions list and is sixth in receiving yardage.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound Mitchell ran the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash among wide receivers at the combine, clocking in at 4.45 seconds. He also landed in the top 10 in the broad jump and vertical jump for his position group.
Mitchell signed a four-year, $2.9 million contract with the Patriots.
He said he just wants “to come out here every day and get better” during training camp, adding that he studies his playbook until he falls asleep.
“My mom always said you put as much into something as you want to,” said Mitchell. “To be completely honest, it’s only hard if you make it. Learning is just simply looking over information long enough it becomes habit or instinctive. And that’s all you have to do.
“Honestly, it’s just about doing the best you can, and you have to live with it, right? Football is just like anything else, you have highs, you have lows, but if you consistently work hard, I believe you’ll be OK.”
With receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on the physically unable to perform list, Mitchell will have plenty of opportunities during camp to show off the results of his hard work.
“You’re in an environment where everybody’s a top performer,” Mitchell said. “So to come into that environment as a new person you have to put in just as [much] or more than the work they put in.
“Is it stressful? Some advice I’ve got recently is to have as much fun as you can, so that’s my focus.”