A hard-charging back out of Mississippi catches on with the New England Patriots despite going undrafted. No, this isn't the story of BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2008; it's a current picture of the bottom of the Patriots' depth chart at running back after the release of Joseph Addai.
Brandon Bolden wasn't quite as successful as Green-Ellis in college because he was in a committee backfield for the Rebels. He is built like Green-Ellis at 5'11", 220 lbs, and like Green-Ellis, he has an excellent burst for a compact, bigger back. There are differences between the two. Bolden is a better receiver but is fumble-prone, where Green-Ellis is well-known for never coughing the ball up.
Still, the comparison is impossible to avoid. Boston Globe beat writer Greg Bedard said Bolden reminds him of Green-Ellis "more and more each day" while praising his body control and vision. Bedard also said Bolden "continued to open eyes with his all-around play," including the biggest run in the July 28 practice.
Bedard might be the most trusted voice covering the Patriots. If it's not him, then it's Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston. Reiss summed up his takes on the first four days of practice, saying Bolden "has been a surprise and appears to have a real chance to earn a roster spot; he's caught the ball fairly well and at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds has a nice combination of size, speed and power."
In theory, the release of Joseph Addai after he quit during a conditioning test shouldn't affect Bolden's prospects because Addai is a passing-down back. The Patriots already have two other backs well-suited for passing downs in Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen. Bolden could then make it as a backup to Stevan Ridley in the bread-and-butter running game role.
The Patriots have been known to carry five running backs in the past. Bolden would be the fourth back, and there's no one behind him to compete with for the roster spot. At this rate, there won't be a need for New England to add anyone, either.
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