The Patriots made news this weekend for the signing of former Indianapolis Colts back Joseph Addai, but there was another running back added to the roster who could have a much bigger long-term impact on the team than Addai if history repeats itself.
Addai is an excellent pass-blocker and should take a lot of the passing down work if he can make the final roster. He doesn't have the power game to replace Cincinnati Bengals RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots' leading rusher in 2010 and 2011.
The Patriots signed Green-Ellis as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss in 2008, which is exactly the story of how they acquired Bolden, as reported by Boston Globe beat writer Greg Bedard.
Bolden wasn't nearly as accomplished as Green-Ellis, but he is built like Green-Ellis, measuring in at 5'11", 222 lbs at the combine. His surprising 38-inch vertical was second best among all backs at the combine, indicating rare explosiveness for a bigger back. The combine invitation itself is a sign that he was considered draft worthy and was one of the top undrafted free agents.
Bolden had 27 career rushing touchdowns, which could put him in the running to be the Patriots' short-yardage back if he can make the team. Stevan Ridley got in the doghouse with fumbles late last season, and head coach Bill Belichick won't tolerate that problem for much longer. Bolden's eight career fumbles in under 600 career touches in college isn't a reassuring number, but at least they didn't come in a Patriots uniform.
With Green-Ellis having no fumbles during his run as a Patriot, ball security will be a must for anyone looking to earn a job in the backfield. If Bolden can show more consistency in that area than Ridley, while generating just as much power, he might make the final roster, or at least the practice squad, which was where Green-Ellis ended up after his first camp with New England.