Patriots’ Crowded Backfield Should Bring Plenty Of Uncertainty In 2017

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FOXBORO, Mass. — For the umpteenth straight year, Bill Belichick is not making life easy for fantasy football experts and owners.

The Patriots have a full stable of running backs, and uncertainty will abound each week with how Belichick will decide to split snaps between James White, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis.

White, who will be the team’s primary third-down pass-catching back, is used to sharing.

“For me, ever since college and little league, I’ve always had other guys in the backfield, so just make the most of your opportunities,” White said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “Everyone’s going to have a role. You may play one play one game, you may play 60 plays one game. So, just be ready for the moment when your number’s called.”

White’s lowest snap total last season came in the divisional round of the playoffs, when he was on the field for just 12 plays in the Patriots’ 34-16 win over the Houston Texans. Conversely, he played 71 snaps in the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI win over the Atlanta Falcons.

White knows his role, and he’ll serve it for a while after signing a three-year contract extension, but he could see his snaps decrease after the Patriots brought in Burkhead and Gillislee.

White still is welcoming them with open arms.

“They’re both good football players,” White said. “I watched those guys ever since college, so it’s great to have more competition here. It’s going to bring the best out in each and every player. I think competition brings the best out of you. So you compete with each and every one of those guys we have, and I think it will make the team better. …

“They fit in very well. You gotta welcome the guys in. You never know who’s going to be here, so you get around those guys, help them learn the offense, let them know how we work here. Just let them get a feel for this system so they’re comfortable, and they feel at home once they step foot here.”

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports Images

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