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Damien Harris: Getting James White back makes the Patriots ‘a better team’

Related: Patriots roster breakdown: James White can still play a big role for New England

NFL: New England Patriots OTA Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots fielded one of the best running back corps in the NFL in 2021, and it might get even better this season. Not only will players such as Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson continue to develop, while youngsters Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris were added in the draft, the group’s leader is also set to return.

Team captain James White was back on the field for New England’s offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp after missing most of last season due to a hip injury. He was limited, but his sheer presence alone was a positive.

It remains to be seen how much the 30-year-old has still left in the tank at this point in his career, but there is no denying he can still have a positive impact on the Patriots both on and off the field. Just ask New England’s leading running back of the last two years, Damien Harris.

“We missed Sweetfeet. It’s been great to have him back because of his leadership, his experience, his poise,” Harris told reporters earlier this month.

“James is a pro’s pro. Everybody regardless of how long you’ve been in the league, how short you’ve been in the league, how much experience you have, James White is really a guy that you can look to and say that’s the example how you want to be as a professional football player.”

A fourth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2014, White has been among the team’s most important and reliable players over the last eight seasons. As the team’s top receiving back he appeared in a combined 107 regular season and playoff games through the years and has is the owner of three Super Bowl rings.

Additionally, White has been voted a team captain each of the last four years — including his 2021 campaign that came to an unfortunate end in September: White suffered a hip subluxation in the second quarter of a Week 3 loss to New Orleans, and later underwent season-ending surgery.

He had to sit out the remainder of New England’s season, but after re-signing in free agency is now back.

“Having James back in the building, having him back in the locker room, has provided a lot of smiles, put a lot of smiles on a lot of people’s faces, a lot of laughs,” Harris said about his veteran teammate. “He makes us all better football players and he makes us a better team.”