James White solidifying role as receiving back
|James White looks poised to earn the 3rd down RB role. (Getty Images)|
Last year's 4th round pick out of Wisconsin had a quiet first year, learning the ropes from Vereen, Ridley, and Blount. This pattern follows the process in which Shane Vereen also began his career. Vereen played in five games his rookie year, totalling 15 rushes for 57 yards and one touchdown, but not a single catch. This was essentially a redshirt year for Vereen, where he learned the playbook, built up his athleticism and set forth on his career the following year. White played in three games last season, and had 9 rushes for 38 yards, and five receptions for 23 yards, not far off from Vereen's rookie campaign.
While it took Vereen two seasons to make the jump to a regular contributor, there is no reason to think that White will be held back this year. LeGarrette Blount will likely take the majority of snaps out of the running backs, and players like Jonas Gray, Tyler Gaffney, Brandon Bolden, and Travaris Cadet will also take away some opportunities from White. But unlike his compatriots, he has received glowing praise from Belichick, who stated that White has the ability to contribute on all three downs. This comes several days after White started with the first team offense before Blount passed his conditioning test.
Belichick also commented on a few players. On RB James White: "A guy who can really play on all 3 downs, quality guy, smart, team oriented."— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 3, 2015
James White got the majority of the reps with Brady today, it appeared. He may have early lead as team's top passing-game back.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) July 31, 2015
James White seeing a lot of time today with Tom Brady and the first teamers. Caught everything that was thrown his way. #patriotstalk— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) July 31, 2015
So far White has proven that he is adept at catching passes, arguably the best of the current Patriots running backs, and has also offered versatility on special teams as well.
Travaris Cadet, James White and Chris Harper were practicing punt returns.— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) August 6, 2015
With White showing up in camp so far, and earning both Brady's and Garoppolo's trust, he needs to keep up his performance. As long as he continues to thrive in his opportunities he should be in place to be the third down and receiving back this offense desperately needs.
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