FOXBORO - Malcolm Mitchell is a big fan of books, but right now, there's only one upon which he can focus.
The Patriots playbook is required reading for the rookie wide receiver from Georgia whose claim to fame beyond the playing field was his participation in an Athens, Ga., book club that met weekly at a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
"Any time you start a book - say, a big book, like the fifth 'Harry Potter.' Huge. Gigantic. - If you think about the end of the book and how long it's going to take you to get there, you might never start," he said at the Patriots' training camp. "The first thing you have to do is flip the first page and begin, and that was the same approach I took with learning this playbook."
Mitchell, the 112th pick overall in the April player draft, has shown flashes of talent during a camp in which there has occasionally been a shortage of receivers because of injury. Part of the reason beyond his obvious ability could be his strong study habits, which were developed in college when he participated at Georgia.
"The book club helped me grow into a better individual, a person who learns and grows throughout life in general," Mitchell said after he was drafted in the fourth round. "I joined the book club probably two or three years ago, and from there it just grew into this story that people like to hear, but it was honestly an innocent interaction that I had with someone in the book club that grew into the story that it is today."
He has carried that sharp focus into his approach to becoming a pro football player.
"For me, honestly, it's just all about doing the best you can and you have to live with it," he said. "Football is like anything else. You have highs. You have lows. But if you consistently work hard, I believe you'll be okay."
Playbook study is not just the only thing to which Mitchell has had to adapt in his first two weeks of training camp.
"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," he added, "and that by far is the most impressive thing I've ever seen thus far in my young life, to see something so detailed. You immediately understand why the Patriots are who they are."
Needless to say, Mitchell does not have any comparable experiences upon which he can draw as he makes the transition.
"This is the only team I've been on so far," he said. "But preparation goes back to learning and how focused you are. If I want to come out here and compete every day, I have to be hydrated so I need to drink a lot of water. It's really simple when you think about it. It's just whether you do it or not."
Mitchell impressed during Friday's intrasquad scrimmage, playing the "X" receiver. He has speed and can get separation in his routes, which is a quality that's generally lacking throughout the receiving corps. Whether that translates to playing time in the regular season will remain to be seen.
The native of Valdosta, Ga., said he's not sweating the small stuff.
"Is it stressful? Some advice I've gotten recently is to have as much fun as you can," he said. So that's my focus."
Julian Edelman was not the only player that returned to the field from the PUP list on Sunday. Tight end Clay Harbor also was on the field for the first time in camp. Running back Donald Brown also returned to practice for the first time in several days ... Still on the physically-unable-to-perform list are guard Tre Jackson, wide receiver Danny Amendola, tackle Sebastian Vollmer and running back Dion Lewis ... Tom Brady's squad eked out an 11-10 "victory" over Jimmy Garoppolo's team in the second intrasquad scrimmage in three days. ... The team practices at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.