Dont’a Hightower Issued No. 54 by Patriots, Fueling Speculation That Brian Waters May Not Return

Dont'a Hightower Issued No. 54 by Patriots, Fueling Speculation That Brian Waters May Not ReturnWe're less than a week away from the Patriots' season opener, and Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters still has not reported, leaving many to wonder if he will ever rejoin the team.

While we aren't clear about Waters' future at this point, we did receive a peculiar piece of information on Monday. The Patriots issued Waters' No. 54 to Dont'a Hightower, and the rookie linebacker was wearing it during practice.

Waters, who was a Pro Bowler in his first season in New England in 2011, is under contract through this season. He is currently on the Patriots' "reserve/did not report" list, though, and there's more questions than answers when it comes to his status.

Head coach Bill Belichick maintained throughout minicamp and in training camp that Waters was absent due to personal reasons, and it's been widely debated since whether the offensive lineman would join the team before the season opener or opt to hold out. Belichick didn't offer up much more information to reporters Monday, instead taking a more technical route.

"Well, he's not on the roster," Belichick said. "He's either an active player or he's not an active player, and he's not an active player. He's not on the roster."

Belichick then said he didn't have any more to add to the situation, meaning the drama will linger a little bit longer.

Yardbarker

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