FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If the New England Patriots' season started today, 2014 fourth-round pick James White would be the leading candidate to serve as the team's pass-catching running back.
It's a vital role in the offense, which is reflected in how Shane Vereen played 52.9 percent of the offensive snaps last season. Vereen's work in the Super Bowl, in particular, was exemplary.
On Friday, head coach Bill Belichick lauded White, who showed up with four catches for 52 yards in the preseason opener.
"I think James has had a real good training camp. He’s a versatile player that has shown the ability to play on all four downs, does a good job in the passing game," Belichick said.
Specifically, and perhaps most importantly, Belichick thought White fared well enough in pass protection. Though there appeared to be one noticeable breakdown from White that led to a sack, one play didn't spoil Belichick's overall view.
"Green Bay ran a number of blitzes with their multiple blitzers [and] he had an opportunity to pick up the blitz, make some catches, handle the ball a little bit," Belichick said. "I thought he did a good job in the open field of making a couple players miss and gaining some extra yards. So, it was [a] good step for him."
White, as noted in Friday morning's post on snap counts, only played 30 snaps in the regular season last season. He played 44 in the preseason opener.
"He really didn’t get a chance to play very much last year after preseason, and James has worked hard," Belichick said. "He had an opportunity to handle the ball a little bit last night. Again, still a long way to go, a lot of things that he needs to work on, but he definitely showed up with some positive plays.
"Hopefully he can build on those going forward, and find a way to contribute on all four downs for us. That’s what we need and that would be his value for us if he can do that."