Playing the rookie jersey game

The Patriots are holding off on awarding jersey numbers to rookies at this time. With the NFL's lockout, it doesn't make sense to award numbers until the rookies arrive in town.

From the keeping-it-light and not-everything-has-to-be-hard-hitting department, a look at the numbers rookies wore in college:

Nate Solder -- 78 -- That number is retired, last worn by offensive tackle Bruce Armstrong. Like Armstrong, Solder was a tight end who converted to tackle.

Ras-I Dowling -- 19 -- Will have to change in New England as defensive backs aren't eligible to wear numbers in the teens.

Shane Vereen -- 34 -- Figures to be available to him as veteran Sammy Morris is a free agent.

Stevan Ridley -- 34 -- The same number as his rookie classmate, Shane Vereen.

Ryan Mallett -- 15 -- Tyree Barnes and Shun White, both of the reserve/military list, have that number, but that likely won't stop the team from issuing it to Mallett if he wants it.

Marcus Cannon -- 61 -- Number comes available with Stephen Neal's retirement.

Lee Smith -- 16 -- Scott Zolak would probably allow it to be issued, but NFL rules don't permit a tight end to be in the teens.

Markell Carter -- 8 -- Defensive ends/outside linebackers aren't eligible to be in the single-digits in the NFL.

Malcolm Williams -- 15 -- Defensive back will be moving up into the 20s, 30s or 40s.