Patriots

For Patriots RB James White, the last two weeks have been 'mentally exhausting'

For Patriots RB James White, the last two weeks have been 'mentally exhausting'

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis was a watershed moment for many Americans.

Seeing Floyd’s life choked away while he begged for his life, hearing onlookers begging Derek Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck and seeing the officer refuse to do so, reveling in the fact he had the power to do what he wanted with no obvious fear of reprisal is an image that will be a part of United States history as long as there is a United States.

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It’s caused a reckoning. It’s convinced many of us who were slow to grasp that a mindset which leads to a moment like that truly exists. It’s helped us understand why Black Americans live with anxiety and fear that the majority of the country never has to carry.

It’s not that we haven’t been told before. It’s not that we haven’t asked for folks to help us understand and then opted to only believe some of what we were told.

But here we are again, in the wake of George Floyd’s death once again turning to Black Americans for answers. Even as they themselves are processing the trauma of what they saw and what they’ve experienced in their own lives, we are asking Black people to speak on it. Help us understand. Help us to, in a way, feel better.

It must be an immeasurable test of patience and mental strength to do that. But so many do. Locally, Patriots like Devin and Jason McCourty and ex-Patriots like Benjamin Watson and Duron Harmon have done it.

On Thursday, Patriots running back James White was on a video conference with the media and almost all the questions he fielded had to do with Floyd’s murder, possible protests when the NFL season begins and his reaction to the way the team has handled things.

I asked him if he gets tired of doing the same thing he’s done before — explain.

“It can be a little mentally exhausting but like I said, the more you can explain, the more you can help somebody understand different situations people in America deal with is only gonna make things better,” White said. “Everybody should educate themselves a little better on Black history in America. To get a better understanding of how laws work, how racism works, how different states have different laws; there may be some laws that people may not even know exist. But the more we can learn, the better educated we’ll be and help each other out.”

When I said to White that it would be fair for him to say, “Didn’t we just go over all this a couple of years ago?” he could only laugh.

Whether it’s White or Devin McCourty, whose family just suffered a great tragedy with the loss of his unborn daughter or Watson, who has seven children but continues to answer the bell to speak to media every day on these issues, the selflessness is inspiring.  

They live with a burden they don’t deserve, experience personal traumas they do not share, carry a fear we can’t understand and then are asked to shepherd people who diminish their experiences into getting enlightenment.

Then go play football at a high level. We ask a lot.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Finally, the New England Patriots are back on the field at Gillette Stadium.

The new-look Pats had their first practice of 2020 on Wednesday, which means training camp position battles are officially underway. The obvious position battle in camp will be at the quarterback position between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, but there are many more intriguing battles to keep an eye on.

In a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry break down the positions where these battles will take place.

Patriots Talk Podcast - Training Camp Preview: Burning Questions. Bold Predictions | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

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Perry named the Patriots' three most notable position battles, starting with the QB position. While it's technically a battle between Newton and Stidham, some believe it's a foregone conclusion Newton will be the Week 1 starter.

"You have the quarterback spot with Cam vs. Stidham. Let's move past that, we've talked enough about that, we both think Cam is going to win the job. Not a real battle, per se," Perry said.

"Let's go back to the outside linebackers. This is a four-way cage match between Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings, Shilique Calhoun, and Brandon Copeland. My guy is going to be Anfernee Jennings, but I do think that's a battle. Whatever that opposite John Simon edge spot is called, somebody's got to fill it.

"Number three, let's talk special teams ... who is your returner? Is it Kyle Dugger, your first draft pick in this year's draft? Is it J.J. Taylor? Fun as hell to watch, would be fun as hell to watch in the kicking game. Or is it last year's guy, Gunner [Olszewski]? They don't want to give it to Julian Edelman, we know that, so one of those three guys I think will win it."

For Curran, it's a newly-added safety who will have his attention in camp.

"I'm going to head over to the secondary for the position battle that I'm interested to watch," Curran said. "I have a good feeling of who's going to shine there and it's my defensive dark horse for this camp and this season -- it's going to be Adrian Phillips at the safety spot holding off a young Kyle Dugger.

"I think Adrian Phillips is going to be an absolute eye-opener at the safety position ... Adrian Phillips is a talented player, he's closer to [Patrick] Chung than he is Devin McCourty. He's going to be a really good player for the Patriots this year. But I'm going to be real interested to see how Dugger competes ... he's an athletic unicorn."

Curran and Perry also discuss the burning questions surrounding the Patriots, why the Pats should explore using the triple option, bold predictions for the 2020 season, and much more.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

One of the New England Patriots' 2020 draft picks has decided to retire before his rookie season began.

The team announced Thursday it has placed offensive lineman Dustin Woodard on the reserve/retired list.

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Woodard, who played college football at the University of Memphis, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (230th overall) of April's draft. The 22-year-old center/guard was one of three offensive linemen taken by the Patriots in the 2020 draft, along with guard Michael Onwenu (sixth round) and tackle Justin Herron (sixth round).

Why is Woodard retiring? ESPN's Mike Reiss reported additional details:

The Patriots signed center Tyler Gauthier on Wednesday in a move that adds some depth to the position following Woodard's retirement. Woodard had a chance to make the roster as the backup center behind starter David Andrews.