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Patriots rookie defender Keion White is ‘just scratching the surface’ of what he could become

The arrow is pointing up for New England’s second-round draft pick.

NFL: AUG 10 Preseason - Texans at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Regardless of the “Are there more victories in the NFL?” debate, there is no denying the New England Patriots do have some things to feel good about even after losing their season opener against the Miami Dolphins. One such positive is the play of second-round rookie Keion White.

Playing 23 snaps along the Patriots’ defensive line and rushing the passer on 13 of them, White registered four quarterback pressures. He even was able to get to quarterback Jalen Hurts against both the Philadelphia Eagles’ left and right tackle.

It being his first NFL regular season game, the performance was impressive. It also was only an appetizer, if Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is to be believed.

“We already knew he was a pretty physical guy, strong guy, absolutely has the ability to set edges and also does a good job rushing the passer,” Mayo said about White earlier this week. “He’s just really scratching the surface as far as what he can become. But I think he’s going to be able to do it. Just his approach to the game, it’s so good. So, I think he’ll be good going forward.”

Following a six-year college career split between Old Diminion and Georgia Tech, White arrived in New England as the 46th overall selection in this year’s draft. His impressive athleticism — he registered a 9.91 Relative Athletic Score in the pre-draft process — and positional flexibility made him an enticing addition to one of the NFL’s best defenses.

It did not take long for White to start showcasing his gifts, and his immensely disruptive potential. After a strong training camp and preseason, he also found success against one of the best offensive lines in football last Sunday.

“I think he did pretty well,” said fellow D-lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. “I mean against Lane [Johnson] he had some really good rushes. He’s very effective on the quarterback, was in his face all the time. So, he had a pretty good game.”

White’s position coach, DeMarcus Covington, echoed those remarks.

“I thought he did a good job Sunday for us,” Covington said. “And I think he’s going to continue to improve week to week, just like we’re all trying to do, especially in this month of September — the month of improvement. And so, for him, [it’s] just continuing the fundamentals, learning those details, learning the defense, continuing to grow in those areas, and helping out in whatever role he can build for himself.”

The Patriots have a deep defensive line both on the interior and along the edge. Nonetheless, White has shown that he can account well for himself if given the opportunity.

The next of those will come in primetime, against the visiting Miami Dolphins on Sunday night. And considering that the Miami offensive line has not the same quality as the Eagles’, at least on paper, the 24-year-old might be in for another productive day.

For Wise Jr., however, the focus is on getting better above all else — a piece of advice the team captain would give his young teammate.

“Keep doing what he’s doing, learn from the mistakes that he does make, and improve on that, and he’ll be really good.”