The New England Patriots kicked off organized team activities Monday. And though media members won’t be permitted to watch practice until Thursday, a 31-second, team-released video revealed several noteworthy nuggets from Day 1:
— Safety Patrick Chung already is back on the practice field less than four months after fracturing his forearm in Super Bowl LIII. Initial reports suggested Chung, who also underwent offseason shoulder surgery to repair an unrelated injury, likely would miss spring practices, so this is a positive development for the Patriots.
Rookie defensive end Chase Winovich also could be seen practicing with a wrap/brace on his right thumb. He had surgery in March and said before the draft he hoped to be back in time for OTAs.
It’s unclear whether either player was limited in Monday’s session.
— Rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry is wearing No. 50 this spring, indicating the Patriots are following the same odd numbering process Bill Belichick introduced last year.
Rather than assigning rookies position-specific jersey numbers, the team issues them based on draft slot, beginning with No. 50. So Harry, as New England’s first pick, gets No. 50, followed by cornerback Joejuan Williams with No. 51, Winovich with No. 52 and so on.
(Since Nos. 56 and 57 are retired for Andre Tippett and Steve Nelson, respectively, those aren’t assigned.)
Coincidentally, quarterback Jarrett Stidham (fourth round) is wearing the same No. 58 that 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling sported last spring.
Here’s the full list:
Undrafted players are assigned numbers alphabetically, beginning with No. 62. Since a few UDFAs already have been released, we’ll wait until Thursday to provide the full list of their jersey numbers.
— Speaking of Etling, it was interesting to see him getting reps on what appeared to be the kick return team.
The LSU product will have a very difficult time earning a roster spot as a quarterback unless Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer or Stidham suffers an injury this summer, so diversifying his skill set is a smart move.
The highlight of Etling’s Patriots tenure to date is the 86-yard touchdown run he ripped off during last year’s preseason finale.
— Some notable veteran jersey numbers:
Dontrelle Inman: 15
Maurice Harris: 82
Matt LaCosse: 83
Ben Watson: 84
— The Patriots are going with plain silver helmets in OTAs, sans Flying Elvis decals.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports