Foxborough, Mass. - Giving unorthodox jersey numbers to rookies during spring practices is a tradition that Bill Belichick has picked up in the latter years of his coaching career. But to see anyone outside of that grouping wearing a jersey number not typically worn by their respective position is an oddity.
When linebacker Jamie Collins was seen on the field for the first time since 2016 in OTAs this week with the Patriots, he was sporting the number 8 on his jersey.
You may wonder why that's the case.
Well, it's more simple than you think.
When asked during a media session on Thursday, Collins said it was nothing more than availability when he came to choosing a number.
"I guess I wore it in college," Collins said, via the Providence's Journal's Mark Daniels. "91 is taken. I don’t know. It’s just a number. We’ll sort it out."
The no. 91 is currently being worn by third-year defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. So, Collins elected to wear a number that he sported during his four-year tenure at Southern Mississippi.
Who knows if Wise would be willing to give those digits up since that is also the jersey number he started his NFL career with as a Patriot.
Wise was drafted in the fourth round following the 2016 season when Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns by New England.
Collins will have to find another suitable number during his second stint with the Patriots, one that fans can recognize him by and also fits NFL protocol.