Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday we looked at No. 37 Jordan Richards, and the day before that it was No. 38 Brandon Bolden. Because today marks 35 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 35, running back Jonas Gray.
Before the 2014 season, Gray had not taken a handoff in the NFL since going undrafted in 2012. He spent the first two seasons of his career bouncing around the practice squads of the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens before landing in New England.
Gray could very well take the first carry in the Patriots’ 2015 season.
You could say that Gray’s 2014 campaign was interesting. He quietly racked up 131 yards on 32 carries in three games before his jaw-dropping performance against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football. While non-Patriots fans across the television across were looking him up on Wikipedia, Gray ripped off 201 yards and four touchdowns on a franchise-record 37 carries, powering the Patriots to a big victory.
And then he tailed off, playing in only four regular season games after Thanksgiving. In the AFC Championship Game, Gray did get promoted to the active roster, but he registered just four yards on four carries.
Let’s shift focus toward 2015. With LeGarrette Blount under suspension for the opener, Gray stands to be the starting running back. We could very well see Gray taking the first touch of the Patriots’ season (it will either be that or a Jimmy Garoppolo throw).
Here’s Gray hard at work with fellow running back Brandon Bolden in training camp.
It should be noted that there is another player who is currently wearing the No. 35 jersey in training camp: undrafted rookie cornerback Jimmy Jean. Standing at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds the University of Alabama-Birmingham product is the tallest member of the Patriots’ cornerback group right now, towering three inches over the next-tallest player.
Jean has taken a circuitous route to the NFL. At age 26, he is older than half of the roster. It’s unlikely that he will make the 53-man roster, but he would be a great addition to the practice squad. If the injury bug hits the secondary, it would be nice to have a big corner ready to go.
In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 39 Travaris Cadet, No. 41 Dekoda Watson, No. 42 Xzavier Dickson, No. 43 Nate Ebner, No. 44 Matthew Wells, No. 45 D.J. Lynch, No. 46 james Develin, No. 47 Michael Hoomanawanui, No. 48 Geneo Grissom, No. 49 Joe Cardona, No. 50 Rob Ninkovich, No. 51 Jerod Mayo, No. 52 Dane Fletcher, No. 53 Eric Martin, No. 54 Dont’a Hightower, No. 55 Jonathan Freeny, No. 58 Darius Fleming, No. 59 Chris White, No. 60 David Andrews, and No. 61 Marcus Cannon.
Because there is currently no owner of the No. 34 jersey, this series will take a break tomorrow. But be sure to check back on Musket Fire Saturday morning as we celebrate 33 days until Week 1 by profiling the owner of the No. 33 jersey, running back Dion Lewis.