James White solidifying role as receiving back

James White looks poised to earn the 3rd down RB role. (Getty Images)
There has been a long line of great Patriots running backs capable of catching the football. From Kevin Faulk to Shane Vereen, the receiving back has been a staple of the Patriots offense and its success. With Vereen gone, there will need to be a new member of this prestigious lineage. That man is James White.

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.

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.

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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