Like they have all season long, the Patriots running backs stepped up on Sunday in the absence of one of their own. Against the Cardinals, it was James White, filling for Rex Burkhead, who was lost the week before to a knee injury that ended his season.
White delivered with two touchdowns, but was just the latest member of the room to answer the bell for a missing teammate in what has been a season that has hit the running back room harder than any other position on the roster.
"Just trying to stay afloat," said White on Wednesday. "Keep working hard, caring for one another, making sure we're doing everything we can to protect ourselves and protect our bodies to have the best performance we can."
White will hope for more performances like the one he had against the Cardinals, with Cam Newton saying afterwards that Burkhead was smiling somewhere after seeing White's scores on play calls that used to be his.
"We're always cheering for one another," said White of the running backs. "We all know we're not gonna be out there for 60 plays every week, so we all just cheer on one another, make each other better, give each other tips."
White will be one of the captains counted on to set the course through the final five games of the 2020 season. Through an impossibly difficult year, White still sounded like the same steady leader he's always been.
"Just finding ways to become a better overall football team every week," said White. "Everybody's been trying to find ways to improve and that's what's most important. Obviously hasn't been perfect out there, but guys have been competing, fighting their tails off each and every Sunday to get a win.
"We've got another tough opponent in the Chargers this week and their record doesn't really show how good of a team they are but they are a good football team, played a lot of close football games. It's gonna be great competition and we got to go out there and compete."
Webex Quotes of Note
Jakobi Meyers on adjusting to the Cardinals stop-the-run defensive approach:
"I feel like they put a lot more attention on the backs and that put a lot more stress on us the receivers as a unit to go out there and get open and make plays and alleviate some of that stress. Like I said, our coaches made some adjustments on the sidelines and I feel like they're definitely some of the best coaches in the game, ended up pulling out the victory.
Myles Bryant on his increased playing time against the Cardinals:
"It was tons of fun. Arizona that was a good team, it was a big-time game, just like every game is. And just for me to be out there doing what I love, it was tons of fun being out there with all the guys and just playing NFL football."
Devin McCourty on complementary football:
"When you look at any team, usually that's what winning football looks like, being able to play together as a team. I don't care if you're only good on offense or defense, it's going to be a struggle to win games. The games where we struggle to do that, where one side plays better than the other, it's hard to win. You do something good on one side and you can't do it with consistency, that's tough. We got to continue to do it. When we're able to do it, you can tell the difference.