After a series of roster moves over the last few days, the New England Patriots’ active roster appears to be at least somewhat set for the upcoming season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Of the 53 men currently on it, nine are rookies and set to appear in their first-ever NFL game on Sunday. Accordingly, they have now received new jersey numbers appropriate for the respective positions they are playing on the team.
This move was necessary considering that the Patriots are traditionally giving rookies non-eligible numbers from 50 up when they arrive. Now, however, they have been handed “real” ones as was announced by the club on Monday night.
35 — S Kyle Dugger: Dugger wore number 2 at Lenoir-Rhyne, which is obviously not an option at the pro level. That number is the difference of his current digits, though, so there is at least a theoretical connection.
42 — RB J.J. Taylor: Taylor wore number 21 at Arizona, and has now doubled it to get his NFL number. Either that, or he’s a big fan of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
44 — TE Dalton Keene: Keene wore number 29 at Virginia Tech, and therefore had to pick a new number in college. The number has a varied positional history in New England, having been worn by running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs.
46 — LB Cassh Maluia: Maluia wore number 46 at Wyoming as well, so him keeping the number that previously belonged to fullback James Develin is no surprise.
53 — LB Josh Uche: Uche Wore number 6 at Michigan, which meant he was due for a change either way upon entering the NFL. He’s now taking over Kyle Van Noy’s old number.
58 — LB Anfernee Jennings: Jennings wore number 33 at Alabama, which is again unavailable for a linebacker at the next level. Instead, he has picked the one previously donned by Jamie Collins.
71 — G Michael Onwenu: Onwenu wore number 50 at Michigan. Since that one is occupied by second-year linebacker and fellow ex-Wolverine Chase Winovich, however, he had to find a new number.
75 — OT Justin Herron: Herron wore 75 at Wake Forest, which makes for a straight-forward solution: he is one of three players to keep their college numbers. The others are, of course, Cassh Maluia and...
86 — TE Devin Asiasi: Asiasi wore 86 at UCLA. The Patriots’ projected top tight end takes over the number most famously worn by wide receiver Stanley Morgan between 1977 and 1989.
While the members of the Patriots’ rookie class on the active 53-man roster have received updated numbers to properly reflect their positions, those who are on the practice squad are still listed with the training camp numbers handed to them when they first set foot on the field in August. This means that kicker Justin Rohrwasser and cornerback Myles Bryant, for example, are still wearing jerseys number 55 and 63 for the time being.
In total, New England has seven undrafted rookies on its developmental team right now: Rohrwasser and Zuber are joined by tight end/fullback Paul Quessenberry (48), tight end/linebacker Rashod Berry (62), tight end Jake Burt (64), defensive tackle Bill Murray (69) and wide receiver Isaiah Zuber (77).
Speaking of jersey numbers, second-year offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste also has a new one:
77 — OT Yodny Cajuste: When Cajuste first entered the NFL last year, he was given number 63. Now, however, he has changed to 77. This is possibly an homage to his old college number: he donned 55 at West Virginia.