The injury that knocked James White out of Sunday’s game will sideline the New England Patriots running back for the foreseeable future.
White was diagnosed with a hip subluxation and will be “out indefinitely,” according to a report Monday from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Giardi.
“He has been undergoing tests today,” Rapoport reported on Twitter, “but an (injured reserve) stint would make sense.”
White suffered the injury early in the second quarter of New England’s 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He was carted off the field and ruled out within minutes.
The Patriots will have a difficult time replacing the 29-year-old, who is both their top pass-catching running back and their top pass protector, not to mention an important veteran voice for rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
Veteran special teamer Brandon Bolden saw the largest uptick in playing time in White’s absence Sunday, leading all Patriots backs with 33 offensive snaps, but finished with just three carries for -1 yard and was not targeted in the passing game until the final two minutes (three catches, 23 yards).
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick noted Bolden’s abilities in blitz pickup when asked why he played over Damien Harris and J.J. Taylor.
“Well, Brandon has by far the most experience of that group and certainly in the situation we were in yesterday,” Belichick explained in his Monday morning video conference. “I thought he did a good job of handling it. That’s been a role that he’s had in the past, and fortunately, we haven’t needed him to do that very often. But when he has, he’s done a pretty good job, and I thought he did a decent job for us (Sunday).
“Being thrown into that situation, he handled a lot of blitz responsibilities and patterns, formation, so forth. (We) ended up being a passing game most of the second half, so I thought he handled it pretty well. But we’ll see going forward.”
Harris, Taylor and fourth-round rookie Rhamondre Stevenson round out the Patriots’ stable backfield options. Stevenson, a healthy scratch for each of the last two games, likely will draw back into the lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, barring any additions to this group. The Patriots traded running back Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams during the preseason.
If the Patriots plan to add reinforcements from outside the organization, the list of currently available free agent backs includes Duke Johnson, Todd Gurley, T.J. Yeldon, Ito Smith and Brian Hill. New England also could look to reacquire Rex Burkhead, who’s seen just two touches this season in the Houston Texans’ crowded backfield.