New England Patriots

Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears had extremely high praise for James White during his Tuesday media availability.

White has never jumped off the screen with his explosiveness, athleticism, or anything else that might erroneously conflate a great athlete with a great football player. As Tom Brady himself has proven time and time again, you don’t need to be the most athletic or have the biggest arm to be the best player. Football IQ and knowledge of the game are as important as any other qualities.

That’s why White has become one of Brady’s most trusted targets as his career has progressed. And it could be what makes him one of the most targeted players on the team in his fifth season, as Brady will look to him as much as ever with Julian Edelman out for the first four weeks.

James White evades a tackle from Grady Jarrett of the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter of Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

James White evades a tackle from Grady Jarrett of the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter of Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Fears put it in about as complimentary of terms as you can imagine for a Patriots player.

“Exceptional instincts,” said Fears, via the Boston Sports Journal’s Chris Price. “And his knowledge of the game is probably second only to Brady. He’s the one guy who works more than anybody else as far as studying and preparing and being ready.”

No. 28 is living proof of what it really takes to be a successful player in the Patriots offense, especially as a target for Brady. Learn the system, get on the same page with the quarterback, study your opponents, be in the right spot, and receive the ball.

White has done all of those things as well as any running back under Brady and Bill Belichick, and Fears had the perfect explanation why.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.