Hightower to wear No. 54

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower has been issued jersey No. 54, which was previously donned by Tedy Bruschi and Brian Waters.

The jersey switch from No. 45 to 54 -- which is necessary because of NFL rules for linebacker jerseys -- is notable for a few reasons.

While it doesn't close the door on Waters' return to the team, it certainly paints a less-than-optimistic picture as to the possibility at this point.

Also, Bruschi is one of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise. Last year, Bruschi gave his blessing to Waters to wear No. 54, so it's no stretch to assume he'd do the same for Hightower.