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McDaniels: James White 'prepared' to play Lewis role

There's no replacing Dion Lewis in New England.

The tackle-breaking satellite back gave the undefeated Patriots an unusual player who generated headaches for opponents and yardage and points for his own team.

Out for the year with a torn ACL, fans are left to marvel at how Lewis translated his whirlwind jukes, spins and bursts into an outrageous 165.2 Elusive Rating from Pro Football Focus, shattering a formula that was originally viewed "as a rough 0-100 scale," per PFF's Sam Monson.

After Lewis went down against the Redskins on Sunday, the Patriots leaned on a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount with a successful dab of Brandon Bolden to seal the win against Washington. Neither fit the Lewis mold going forward, though, with that role destined for second-year back James White.

An overly-hyped rookie two summers ago, White has mustered just 16 carries and 12 catches over two seasons as a backup. Behind the scenes, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is expressing optimism in White's development.

"James is a very consistent guy," McDaniels said, per Tom E. Curran of CSN New England. "He comes to work. He's got a great attitude and approach, is always prepared to go in and fulfill any of the roles that we have for our backs."

McDaniels praised White's "blitz pickup" and ability to catch "the football well out of the backfield," adding: "I'm sure James will be prepared, and will give our team everything he has. ... He'll have an opportunity now to step in there and play a little bit more with Dion's situation."

The Patriots need tangible on-field proof that White can shred a defense before handing him a Lewis-sized piece of the pie. The running joke in New England is that Bill Belichick could start anyone in the backfield -- Kate Winslet, Gregg Rosenthal, Chelsea Clinton, whoever -- and see them run for 200-plus yards and three scores.

Lewis was different. The Patriots aren't going to find his duplicate, and they know it. If White can operate as a serviceable fill-in, this 8-0 squad will be just fine.

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