Not much changed for James White during the offseason after he scored the first overtime touchdown in Super Bowl history – at least that's what the running back claimed.
"I traveled a bunch but that's about it," he said with a laugh. He later admitted he probably watched the video of his historic TD "too many times" while admitting he's trying to put his new found fame on the backburner.
"Just trying to put that in the past now,' White added. "It's a new season and nobody cares about that now."
White had already expressed gratitude for the offseason contract extension he signed, a three-year deal worth as much as $15 million. So, staying grounded after his huge coming out party at Super Bowl LI in Houston wasn't the only change he dealt with over the winter and spring.
"It's definitely nice but you still have to continue to work to prove yourself," White said of the deal. "Nothing is for certain and I just want to continue to work with this team and get better every day.
"It was a surprising development. I was just going to come out and work hard and they brought the offer to me and I accepted it. But it's not going to change who I am."
The Patriots would be fine with that because White was already a steady and valuable contributor to the offense long before people took notice. Back in 2015, around the time Dion Lewis was enjoying his own meteoric rise, White established himself as a gifted receiver out of the backfield.
He finished that year, his second with the Patriots after being selected in the fourth round out of Wisconsin in 2014, with 40 catches for 410 yards and four touchdowns. All but seven of those receptions came after Lewis left the lineup when he tore his ACL in Week 9.
So, White by no means came out of nowhere to enjoy his terrific campaign a year ago. He finished with 60 catches, the most for a running back in the Bill Belichick era, for 551 yards and five touchdowns. All of those numbers represent career highs.
White understands the drill in New England. The Patriots game plan approach means the production of individual players can fluctuate wildly depending on a variety of factors. Regardless, his mentality remains the same.
"I try to stay locked in at all times. If I get one snap or 100 snaps, I just try to stay locked in at all times," White said. "That's a big part of with our team. You never know who's going to be the big guy with the most plays you just have to stay ready. You need to be ready when you're number is called."
That same mentality helps when dealing with the potential to be part of a crowded backfield. LeGarrette Blount, last year's leading rusher, is off to Philadelphia but Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead joined returners White, Lewis, D.J. Foster and Brandon Bolden on the depth chart.
Does he ever worry about not getting enough touches?
"Ever since college and little league I've always had other guys in the backfield so you just make the most of your opportunities," he said. "Everybody's going to have a role. You may play one play one game and 60 plays then next. Just be ready for the moment when your number is called."
Patriots fans are thankful White was ready in Houston.