NY Jets offensive tackle Max Mitchell returned to the gridiron in Week 12 and played in his first NFL game since suffering a knee injury nearly two months prior.
Mitchell hadn't played since the team's Week 4 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers but was activated ahead of Week 12. However, he wasn't even supposed to play.
Veteran Cedric Ogbuehi once again received the start at right tackle for the fourth consecutive game but was forced to leave early after just nine snaps following a groin injury.
Mitchell was suddenly thrust back into the starting lineup and he went on to play the remainder of the game at right tackle. Not only did Mitchell hold his own, but he managed to put together the best game of his NFL career to this point.
NY Jets rookie Max Mitchell had his best career game in Week 12
Mitchell didn't allow a single sack, QB hit, or pressure on 54 offensive snaps. He had allowed eight pressures, two sacks, and three QB hits over the first three-and-a-half games of his NFL career, never allowing fewer than two pressures in a game.
Yet, in his first game back from injury — a game he wasn't even supposed to play in — Mitchell finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 72.1 that ranked eighth among right tackles in Week 12.
Mitchell's 80.7 PFF pass-block grade was also a career-high and it was topped by only five other right tackles this week. The rookie fourth-round pick was part of a dominant day for the Jets' offensive line, and he certainly helped contribute to the team's offensive success.
Yes, Mitchell's performance came against a Bears pass rush that has been lackluster for much of the 2022 season. Chicago's front seven didn't exactly assert their dominance on Sunday and the Jets did everything they could to get the ball out of Mike White's possession quickly.
Still, the Jets didn't even plan for Mitchell to play in that game, perhaps because they didn't want to rush him back into action. Evidently, there wasn't anything to be concerned about.
Ogbuehi didn't practice on Wednesday and seems questionable, at best, to play in Week 13. But even if he's healthy, the Jets might opt to stick with Mitchell after his performance on Sunday.
The team should be very encouraged by his performance in his first game back.