Patriots

Patriots

The New England Patriots are ready to move on without Tom Brady. But adjustments must be made to fill Brady's void -- both on the field and off.

Patriots veterans like Julian Edelman, Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater will have to become more active leaders after Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.

Running back James White also is a team captain, though, and is aware his role will need to change this season, as well.

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"Usually I don’t say anything," White admitted Sunday night on "The Double Coverage Podcast" with teammates Devin and Jason McCourty. "Now I'm one of those guys on offense -- I'm going to have to say something."

White said that's partly out of necessity, as the seventh-year pro is one of the longest-tenured Patriots on offense.

"We don’t have that many guys who have played in our offense besides me, Julian, Brandon Bolden, David Andrews, Marcus Cannon — guys like that. Some of them, they don’t talk that much as well. We’re all going to have to speak up, voice our opinions a little bit more, let the younger guys know how we do things as an offense and make sure everybody is on the same page, especially now having less practice time.

"I think it's going to be even more important. Who knows if we’re going to have one week, two weeks, a month to get ready for a game. It's going to be extremely important for all of us to speak up and be on the same page."

 

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Brady would have played a central role in holding his Patriots teammates accountable during their "virtual offseason," which still is limited to video conferences, phone calls and workouts of 10 players or fewer.

Now, it's up to White and the remaining veterans to be the commanding voices for the young players, which on offense include running back Damien Harris, wide receivers N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers and second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, among several others.

For White, that means stepping outside of his comfort zone.

"For me, it is just learning to speak up more," White told the McCourty twins. "As you know, I'm a pretty quiet guy. I don’t talk too much. I only say things when they need to be said. I am constantly learning to speak my mind sometimes because that's a part where I am still continuing to try and grow."

The 28-year-old made strides in that department last Thursday, telling reporters his teammates must "stay on top of" their conditioning and studying their playbooks. He also suggested the team may organize a way to protest racial inequality and police brutality this season following the recent murders of George Floyd and several other Black men and women by police officers.

White should be a major factor in the Patriots' offense in 2020, but it's clear his goals go beyond his performance on the field.