James White was the third Patriots captain to check in with the media in the last couple weeks and, like teammates Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater, he was making the best of being stuck at home when he should be preparing to start OTAs in a couple weeks.
"I'm fortunate enough to have a treadmill, a couple dumbbells, things of that nature and it's warm out here so I can run outside," said White via Zoom. "I'm just trying to do what I can, make the most of the situation, trying to stay in shape for whenever things get back rolling."
Like his fellow captains, White acknowledged the team will be in new territory post-Brady, but echoed the message McCourty and Slater put forth previously - the expectations don't change.
"As soon as you step into that building, you're expected to compete at a high level, be dependable, be a great teammate," reflected White. "For us, as leaders, as captains, it's to string the new guys along, the younger guys along, make sure they're competing, learning. Each year you have to kind of – you know, this is a, 'What have you done for me lately?' league, so you have to come back in and restart over, refresh and show your teammates that you're reliable and that you can compete for 60 minutes, on the practice field, whatever it is, so we can build those relationships and build that reliability each and every time you go out there."
White is coming off an 72-catch season that saw him rank second on the team. The 2014 fourth-round pick spent his first season mostly watching and learning behind the scenes before developing into a key offensive weapon, one who would carry the ball into the end zone to give the Patriots their fifth Super Bowl title in overtime against the Falcons in his third season.
It's a path that fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, along with a number of other young players who will have new opportunities, can hope to follow.
"There are some guys on our team who didn't play their first year or didn't play that much, so when it comes to that second year, the expectations are going to be a little bit higher," said White. "You know the offense, you know the defense, you know the special teams now, when it's time to go out there, you go out there and execute everything. You want to compete, make your teammates better, show them you're going to be reliable on first, second, third down, whatever it is."
For now, White's focus was on preparing to jump back into football when the time finally comes.
"Coach Belichick will do a great job of preparing us no matter what the situation may be," said White. "Things may be a little bit faster pace because we'll be missing some of the OTAs, things of that nature. Completely confident in what he'll have prepared for us. Myself and all of the other leaders do a good job of making sure everybody's trying to stay in shape, staying up fresh on the offense, defense special teams so whenever we can get back going it's not everybody slowing into everything, we'll kind of hit a fast pace."