Tracy White (58) couldn't slow Joe McKnight on a big second-half kick return.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Ask Tracy White about special teams in this week's matchup with the Jets and he starts with two numbers: 25 and 40.2. That would be Jets No. 25, returnman Joe McKnight, and his league-leading kickoff return average.
White stressed the importance of limiting the Jets' returns this week and it's clear that an 88-yard return by McKnight that set up one of New York's touchdowns in the first meeting this season still sticks in his craw. White had the best shot at hauling McKnight down (see screenshot) before the running back exploded through the pack. McKnight finished with 198 yards on five kickoff returns and White doesn't plan to let that happen again.
"Our main concern is 25 -- McKnight -- he's leading the league that 40.2 average," said White. "We're keying on him.
"This week is our biggest challenge because the Jets are the only team that has really affected us this whole year, especially with the long return. We just gotta lock down, anchor down. We're working hard this week."
White has heard coach Bill Belichick's grumbles about the Patriots' lack of production from their own return game -- including in special teams meetings. White is quick to point out that it's not just on the returnman, but the blocking in front of him.
"It’s not one guy, it’s a team effort, but I put a lot of pressure on myself," said White. "I take a lot of pride [in special teams], so, coach Belichick, when he comes into the meetings, I take that to heart. When he’s saying we gotta do better in the kickoff return game, I want to be 100 percent out there, I want to be perfect. I take pride in that. When he says that, it kinda gets to me. If we're not getting the yards out there, I'm like, well, we all gotta block better."