The New England Patriots will officially kick off their preseason schedule on Thursday. At that time, player roles will start becoming more clear and some guys will be out of jobs. Perhaps the most intriguing battle that will take place for the Patriots this year is at running back. More specifically, the battle between Stevan Ridley and James White.
White, a rookie RB out of Wisconsin, has a lot of things that you look for in an NFL running back. He is quick with great hands, and he is a decent pass blocker. Despite what Pats fans have seen so far in training camp, White needs to show what he can do in a game situation, whether it be real or not.
At this point, Ridley and Shane Vereen are known commodities, and Ridley at the very least probably won’t be in New England after this season. The same could apply to Brandon Bolden. Bolden, Ridley and Vereen should only play a handful of snaps on Thursday, thereby handing the majority of the workload to rookies like Roy Finch, Stephen Houston and White.
If the Patriots are not sold on Ridley, which certainly looks to be the case right now, it would behoove them to give White an extra workload right away. He has impressed the most any RB in camp, and he could wind up as the lead back from the get-go if he keeps it up. His chances would increase even more should Ridley fumble again in the preseason.
The only way for White to improve and learn the nuances of the running back position is to throw his feet to the fire. Playing him longer than any other Patriots running back on Thursday would be a first step toward that goal.