James White mentoring Patriots RBs during his recovery proves why he was re-signed
By Jerry Trotta
Don’t let Mac Jones emerging as the favorite for the Offensive Rookie fo the Year award distract you from the fact that the New England Patriots are a run-first offense.
With Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson leading the charge, New England quietly has a top 10 rushing attack over the last month.
You know what’s crazy? The fact that the Patriots are having all this success on the ground without veteran mentor James White, who was lost for the year with a hip injury sustained in the Week 3 loss to New Orleans.
White has since been rehabbing away from the team, but that hasn’t stopped him from embracing a leadership role. During his latest media session, Harris elaborated on how White has continued to make his presence felt during his recovery.
James White continues to lead the Patriots’ RB room despite recovering away from the team.
"“It’s definitely been unfortunate that we haven’t been able to have James physically,” Harris said. “But the leadership that he provided and all the things that he’s done for this organization, the person that he is, the leader that he is, the teammate, the man that he’s been, none of that stuff has gone away.”“Although he’s not with us physically, we know he’s with us every single day. We talk to him almost every day, especially every game day, as running backs. James is still that same leader, that same guy, that same mentor to all of us.”"
White was arguably the lone bright spot on the Patriots’ offense early on, tallying 12 catches for 94 yards and 10 rushes for 38 yards and a touchdown over the first two games. The team felt his absence, losing three of its next four contests before rattling off six straight wins to ascend up the AFC standings.
While the Pats deserve credit for coming together and forming an identity on offense, a lot of their success can be attributed to playing for White.
"“Unfortunately, he’s just not here with us face-to-face, but he provides the same energy, the same focus, the same mentality, the same leadership,” Harris continued. “And I think that’s been crucial to how we approach the game, because you want to play for a guy like James White. Him not being out there, it’s so sad, and everybody knows it, because James is one of the best guys. Forget football-wise; he’s one of the best guys that I’ve ever met. So we all want to go out there and play for him.”"
Tough to disagree with anything Harris had to say there. After all, one quick scroll through White’s Twitter account is all the insight you need to understand how he’s gone about leading and supporting his teammates from afar.
How about one more directed at Stevenson?
Even though he’s not on the field, this is part of why White was re-signed. He embodies the Patriots’ culture through and through.
We’re not sure what the future holds for White — who will turn 30 in February — in regard to his playing career and future, but Harris’ comments prove that he’ll always have a place on the Patriots even when he decides to hang up his cleats.