New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 18: Kyle Dugger #50 of the New England Patriots looks on during training camp at Gillette Stadium on August 18, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steven Senne-Pool/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

It’s officially Week 1 in the 2020 NFL season, which means it’s time to really pay attention to who is and isn’t practicing for New England.

And it’s also time to find out what jersey numbers the Patriots’ rookies will be wearing. Based on several reports from those in attendance, we can confirm the following changes:

No. 35: Safety Kyle Dugger
No. 44: Tight end Dalton Keene
No. 53: Linebacker Josh Uche
No. 58: Linebacker Anfernee Jennings
No. 86: Tight end Devin Asiasi

There’s not a ton to glean from these changes, as is often the case. They’re just numbers. But Keene’s switch to No. 44 is noteworthy, because Patriots with jersey numbers in the 40’s on the offensive side of the ball have historically played fullback.

As noted by our own Alex Barth, among those to have worn No. 44 in New England include Don Calhoun, John Stephens, Marc Edwards, and Heath Evans – all of which played at fullback at some point. It’s no secret that Keene lined up as a fullback at times at Virginia Tech.

Oct 5, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies tight end Dalton Keene (29) carries the ball for a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots rookie tight end Dalton Keene is wearing No. 44 on his jersey, perhaps indicating that he will play some fullback. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the precedent for sticking FBs into No. 44 jerseys, the Patriots kept sophomore Jakob Johnson (No. 47) on the 53-man roster, so he’s likely in the lead for that role. But it’s interesting to see that Keene changed to a number historically worn by guys who lined up in the backfield.

We’ll find out the new numbers for the rest of the Patriots rookies – linebackers Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings (Update: Mike Dussault reported that Uche and Jennings will wear Nos. 53 and 58), and offensive linemen Michael Onwenu and Justin Herron – when the team releases its updated roster.

Harris remains out

Based on multiple reports, running back Damien Harris and defensive tackle Beau Allen were not spotted at Monday’s practice.

It’s especially concerning for Harris, who by all accounts had an excellent camp and was poised to be the Patriots’ starting early-down running back come Week 1. Instead, a reported hand injury has derailed that progress. Sony Michel has an opportunity in front of him to reclaim the spot he held for most of his first two seasons.

MORE: Meet The Patriots’ 53-Man Roster For 2020

Allen, meanwhile, missed much of camp with an undisclosed injury. But he represents veteran depth at a position of relative need and some much-welcome experience in the front-seven. We’ll see if his injury – or Harris’ – warrants a Week 1 trip to injured reserve, with the possibility of returning later in the season.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.