The methods that have made Bill Belichick one of football’s most successful coaches continue to evolve, and he’s introduced a new one to the mix in 2018: rookies with random, non-permanent jersey numbers in spring practices.
That’s why running back Sony Michel, the first-round pick from Georgia, was wearing No. 51 during Tuesday’s organized team activity.cheap nfl nike jersey
That number is illegal for running backs to wear in games, per NFL rules (numbers 20-49 are allowed), which highlights the point that Belichick is making to his newcomers.
“Really not too worried about all the important stuff like that — numbers and what color gloves you wear and all of that,” Belichick said Tuesday. “That’s not really at the top of the list right now. Trying to learn football, trying to become a team, trying to get better each day — that’s really where our focus is.”
How Belichick brings the team together to achieve that goal is often notable. In past years, he’s had all players practice without any numbers in the spring, a method that forced them get to know each other better and increase their level of communication. Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll did something similar.
But the NFL since has disallowed that practice, so Belichick, as he often does, has come up with a different type of twist.
Hence the reason rookie quarterback Danny Etling (seventh round, LSU) was wearing a red, noncontact No. 58 jersey at Tuesday’s practice. That wouldn’t be allowed in a game.
“My first-ever football number in school was 28, so that’s the closest I’ve ever got to it,” Etling said of the unusual number.
All draft picks had numbers in the 50s on Tuesday — Nos. 56 (Andre Tippett) and 57 (Steve Nelson) were off limits because they were once owned by Patriots Hall of Famers — while undrafted players had numbers in the 60s and 70s.cheap nfl jerseys china nike
So it was unusual to see Braxton Berrios, the receiver from the University of Miami selected in the sixth round, wearing No. 55.