The New England Patriots will have a crowed backfield entering into the pre-season schedule. Although the team has lost power back Legarrett Blount to free-agency, the team still has Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and fourth-round draft pick James White who will battle it out for playing time. As NESN reports on Tuesday, ball security will be what determines playing time, especially for White who will be out to prove he belongs on the field.
Last season, Stevan Ridley saw his time diminished as rumbling the ball became an issue during some key moments of football games. Ridley, who is by far the team’s most talented back, eventually lost his starting job to Blount. On Tuesday, White emphasized protecting the ball. The rookie out of Wisconsin told reporters at Gillette Stadium, “Ball security is job security. That’s a quote that I’ve been told.”
If White wants to see any time on the field he knows he will have to take care of the ball and it will be something that will remain on his mind because the coaches won’t let him forget it because they “have stressed it.”
James White is a bit undersized at 5-foot-9 and 204 pounds, but size has never stopped a Patriots running back from having an impact on the field. From Kevin Faulk to Danny Woodhead, the ability to be versatile and do different things as well as ball security can lead to major contributions. White said on Tuesday, “As most small guys, you use it as a chip on your shoulder. You let it push you every single day.”
As a rookie, James White is certainly saying all the right things and preparing himself mentally to make it in this league, but it will be his ability to translate it onto the playing field that will determine his success in the Patriots offense. If anything, he definitely has the tradition of great Wisconsin running backs to lean back on.
“A lot of great running backs went through the Wisconsin system, and it’s an honor to be in the same sentence as guys like Ron Dayne,” White said before naming off running backs such as Michael Bennett and Montee Ball amongst others. “They’re just guys that work hard and will do anything to help the team win. You’re going to get their best effort every day.” That hard work, along with ball security, leads to job security and White seems ready to make his contribution.