FOXBOROUGH — James White knows the drill.
When the Patriots placed Dion Lewis on injured reserve last November after the running back tore his ACL in a Week 9 win over the Redskins, White filled in, seeing substantially more playing time than he did his rookie season.
The 24-year-old White will have to be up to the task again, with Lewis needing a second knee surgery that likely will land him on the PUP list to begin the year.
“I hope him a speedy recovery,” White said. “I don’t really know the situation, I just hope he can come back as soon as he possibly can. He’s one of our good friends and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Aside from playing with more confidence this season after last year’s experience, White said he isn’t going to try to do anything differently.
“I’m always going to be myself,” he said. “Your role can change on a team each and every year, so whatever my role happens to be I’m going to go out there and do it to the best of my ability and just try and help this team win.”
White added that his approach hasn’t changed knowing Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center the first four weeks of the season.
“As an offense as a whole we just try and jell,” he said. “No matter who’s out there, no matter which quarterback, which running back, offensive line, we all have to be on the same page to build that chemistry.”
Selected by New England in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Wisconsin, White saw action in just three regular-season games his rookie year.
But last year, the 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound White played in 14 regular-season games and logged 56 rushing yards on 22 carries, scoring two rushing touchdowns. The bulk of his work came in the passing game, as he racked up 410 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 40 catches.
“It doesn’t matter what you did last year, you have to move on to the next,” White said. “But you can use it as a steppingstone, look at the film, look on things you have to improve on, and work on things you were even good at and try to become even better at it.”
White also played in both Patriots playoff games last year, starting against Denver in the AFC Championship game.
“Very dependable, very consistent,” coach Bill Belichick said of White. “I think he’s worked on his role in the running game, carrying the ball, which he did a lot of in college, hasn’t done a lot of here. Was mainly a passing-game player last year.”
White has said one thing he hopes to improve on is running between the tackles, something Belichick knows he is capable of after seeing him excel within Wisconsin’s offense.
“They run a lot between the tackles and they run a lot, period,” Belichick said. “I think the thing that jumped out with him was how proficient he was in the passing game based on what we saw in college.
“I think his run skills were good, I think they are good. I think they need some refinement. And it’s a little different in this league but I think he can run the ball in there and he’s taking more reps at doing that. I think that’s helped him.”
No sign of Brady
As expected, Tom Brady was not present for Monday’s practice. According to CSNNE, the quarterback has been excused for two days for a non-injury related issue . . . Also not spotted were running back Lewis, safety Patrick Chung, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive end Jabaal Sheard, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, guard Shaq Mason, and defensive tackle Alan Branch . . . Gronkowski and Sheard were both seen in the locker room before practice . . . DEs Rob Ninkovich and Shea McClellin, RB Donald Brown, and WR Malcolm Mitchell worked on conditioning . . . WR Danny Amendola and G Tre’ Jackson were on the field for stretching but did not wear pads . . . Cornerback Logan Ryan shed his red noncontact jersey for the first time this summer — a sign he’ll likely play Friday against the Panthers . . . Another positive sign: WR Keshawn Martin and rookie RB D.J. Foster stayed on the upper field for positional drills. They had been retreating to the conditioning field after stretching for the last two weeks.
Sympathy for Vollmer
Nate Solder talked about his fellow tackle, Sebastian Vollmer, who is likely headed to injured reserve, according to a league source. “Oh man,’’ said Solder. “I love Sebastian, and whatever he needs or whatever it is, I’ll always be there for him . . . He’s one of my best friends.’’ . . . The Patriots released veteran tight end Bear Pascoe, who was brought in right before camp started. An excellent blocker, Pascoe’s release likely isn’t performance-related, it’s more that he was caught in a numbers game. The team is stocked at the position with Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, A.J. Derby, Clay Harbor, Steven Scheu, and Bryce Williams . . . Rookie free agent cornerback V’Angelo Bentley, who did a lot of special teams work in camp returning punts and kickoffs, was released. Safety Cedric Thompson, who was informed Sunday, also was officially cut.
Video: Monday’s training camp report