The New England Patriots have lost some key players from their Super Bowl-winning teams in recent years, most notably Tom Brady.
But the leadership group in New England remains among the strongest in the NFL. Veterans such as Devin McCourty and Dont'a Hightower don't just perform at a high level on the field, they also are great leaders and inspire their teammates. Another player who fills those roles is running back James White.
White's leadership comes in many different forms, as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick explained Tuesday morning.
"James gives us great leadership both on and off the field. He's a player that if he doesn't say anything, you just watch what he does," Belichick said. "He provides great leadership by his actions, the way he prepares, his consistency both on and off the field, his work habits and his attitude to always help the team and put the team first in whatever he's asked to do.
"But at the same time he also helps, I'm sure, his position group the most because he's with those players the most. We have several younger backs on the roster, but just in general he's very willing to help anybody, any player with their training habits or techniques or whatever it happens to be."
White always has a good feel for the team and how things are going on and off the field. This kind of insight is quite valuable to Belichick and the rest of the coaches.
"As a coaching staff, he's one of the players that I love to talk to. How are things going? How do you think we're doing? Where are we on this? Where are we on that? He's very honest, and he has a good perspective," Belichick explained. "It's not too high, not too low. It's very honest and helpful. It helps me prepare and manage the team.
"I've always done that with the players that I thought had a good pulse on things, and he's certainly one of those guys, and that shows up a lot in the captains meetings that we've had in previous years. We haven't elected captains this year, but he does a great job in those meetings of verbalizing where we are, what we need to do, how we need to do it, so forth. As I said, I really enjoy my personal interactions with James and his views and his perspectives. I think he brings a great level of insight to our team, but in his own style, and it's an effective style. It's just different than some other guys."
White still is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league. He's tallied 49 or more receptions in five consecutive seasons. Few players are more reliable in clutch situations, such as third downs and pivotal drives in the fourth quarter.
If the Patriots have a successful 2021 season, you can bet White will play a key role in that. He is an immensely valuable player for his on-field production and leadership in all areas.