Patriots keep rookie tradition alive with Mac Jones at OTAs


If you spin through the gallery of photos from the New England Patriots' first day of organized team activities Monday on the team's official website, you may notice an odd sight.

While veteran quarterbacks Cam Newton (No. 1), Jarrett Stidham (No. 4) and Brian Hoyer (No. 5) are wearing their official numbers, rookie QB Mac Jones is suited up in ... No. 50.

Looks off, doesn't it?

Don't worry: Jones isn't coming after Chase Winovich's number or auditioning for a linebacker job. The No. 50 is temporary, and he'll switch to a traditional QB number before the first preseason game.

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All rookies who come through Foxboro are assigned a temporary jersey number when they first arrive, as head coach Bill Belichick wants them to focus on learning the system instead of fretting over what number to wear.

There's a method to assigning those temporary numbers, too: The Patriots' first selection generally wears No. 50, while subsequent picks get numbers later in the 50s. So, Jones gets the same No. 50 that N'Keal Harry wore as a rookie, as both were New England's first pick in their respective drafts. (Jones went 15th overall, while Harry went 32nd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.) Stidham donned No. 58 in his first training camp as the Patriots' seventh player taken in that 2019 draft.

In short: Jones will have to earn a "real" QB number this offseason as he tries to pick up the offense. While Newton is the incumbent starter, there's an opportunity for the Alabama product to beat out the veteran for the job.

As for which number he'll choose after No. 50, our money is on No. 10, which is what he wore at Alabama.

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