FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots won’t have to worry about their rookie running back putting the ball on the ground.
Fourth-round draft pick James White fumbled just two times in 754 career touches at Wisconsin, and he has a catchphrase that goes along with his lack of fumbling.
“Ball security is job security,” White said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. “That’s a quote that I’ve been told.”
Running back Stevan Ridley lost his starting job with the Patriots last season after fumbling four times in 10 games, so White’s phrase rings especially true in New England.
“All my coaches have stressed it,” White said. “If the ball is in your hands, you better protect it, because that’s the most important part.”
White is undersized at 5-foot-9 and 204 pounds, but he caught 73 passes in four seasons with the Badgers and had experience as a pass protector, so many assume he’ll back up Shane Vereen on third down. White also carried the ball 643 times at Wisconsin, however, and much of his work was done between the tackles.
“You have to be able to do all aspects of the game as a running back,” White said. “In order for you to get on the field, you have to be able to do all aspects.”
Vereen, Ridley and Brandon Bolden are entering contract years with the Patriots, so picking up a dependable, do-everything back in the NFL draft was important. White might have to wait his turn — like he did in high school, backing up Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, and in college, as current Denver Broncos star Montee Ball’s reserve — but when he has his chance, he’ll hold onto the football tight.
Photo via Twitter/@ShaliseMYoung