FOXBORO, Mass. — The exact severity of the injury James White suffered Sunday afternoon remains to be seen. However, watching the veteran running back get carted off the field at Gillette Stadium clearly was a gut punch for Patriots players and coaches.
White left in the second quarter of New England’s eventual loss to the Saints after suffering a hip injury on a third-down run. The 29-year-old was tackled after earning a first down and stayed down on New Orleans’ sidelines, with the cart being called for soon thereafter. Nearly everyone on the Patriots sideline went across the field to check on White.
Within minutes, White was ruled out for the rest of the game — never a good sign. We don’t want to speculate, but it doesn’t look good for the Patriots captain.
Patriots players were universal in their concern — and praise — for White during postgame press conferences.
David Andrews: “It is a tough part of this game, and we don’t really know what happened, but you hate it and for a guy like that, who really does give his all to this team, day-in and day-out. The world could use some more James Whites.”
Mac Jones: “I think James is a great player, but he’s also a good person. He does everything right all the time. It seems like he just goes about his business. He comes into work every day. It’s not like he’s cutting any corners short because he’s an older player and knows it all. He continues to work. That definitely sucked to see him go down. We’re all behind him 100 percent, and he’s a team leader, and he’s a great team leader, and he’s a great Patriot. We all want to be, if we can, like James. He’s a big role model for me. I hope he’s okay, and thoughts and prayers to him and his family.”
Jakobi Meyers: “It’s going to hurt, because he is a great guy on the field and off the field and a lot of guys look up to James White. I know I do. So just seeing him laying down there and seeing him get put on the cart, it kind of makes your heart jump a little bit to your stomach. I mean, we know we have to keep playing, but losing someone like James White definitely hurt a little bit.”
Kendrick Bourne: “I have always been a fan of him from just watching football throughout my life. I’ve seen James since I was young, and then meeting him in person, it was like, ‘Wow, he is who he looks like on TV.’ So to lose him is crucial. He’s a very important guy on third down — really on all downs, but especially on third downs. He is a problem for defenses, and they have to watch him. We have some other guys who can help take his place, so we can hold it down until he gets back. But praying for him.”
Brandon Bolden: “Same feelings when anybody get hurt, but when it’s one of the guys you run with, one of the guys who you train with, one of the guys that you bleed and sweat with, it kind of hits a little different, so prayers to him and hope he gets through it.”
White’s absence, regardless of how long it lasts, will be a major blow to the Patriots. The dual-threat back looked great in the first two weeks, and seemingly had recaptured his vintage form following a down season in 2020.
That he’s a locker room leader with a championship pedigree makes it sting all the more for a Patriots team loaded with new faces still assimilating to life in New England.