The mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over – at least until training camp starts in late July – and we have re-entered the quieter parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at running back Brandon Bolden.
Name: Brandon Bolden
Position: Running back
Jersey number: 38
Size: 5'11, 220 lbs.
2015 review: As has been the case throughout his career, Bolden was a core special teamer and part-time running back in 2015. He appeared in 17 of the Patriots’ 18 games and played 16.9% of the team’s offensive snaps and 56.0% of the team’s special teams snaps (among them a key tackle on one of the most notable plays of the year).
As shown by his playing time percentages, Bolden did see regular snaps in the kicking game. His usage on offense, however, fluctuated. He played sparingly in the first half of the season but saw regular snaps as the team’s third running back behind LeGarrette Blount and James White after Dion Lewis was placed on injured reserve following New England’s week 9 game.
Bolden saw his most extensive offensive playing time on the field between weeks 14 and 16: he played nearly half of the Patriots’ offensive snaps during that timeframe – while still being used as a core special teamer.
Overall, the veteran finished the season with 219 rushing yards on 68 carries and 206 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 22 receptions. Not exactly great numbers, but they reflect how Bolden was thrust into a more involved role on offense because of injuries.
2016 preview: If the top of the Patriots’ running back corps – Lewis and Blount – can get through the upcoming season healthy, Bolden will likely not see the field on offense as often as he did in 2015. He will, however, remain a top special teamer for the team. That is exactly why his chances of making the final roster look very good.
As a talented and experienced player on all four special teams units and as an emergency running back option, the 26-year old is a valuable piece of New England’s roster; especially considering that only 46 players can be declared active on game day. Having a player like Bolden, one that can perform in two of the game’s three phases, therefore basically frees up another spot elsewhere.
His name will likely not be called often in 2016 but Bolden projects to once again be one of those little cogs in the Patriots’ machine that makes it go as smoothly as has been the case for the last 15-plus seasons.
Entering the final season of the two-year contract extension he signed after New England’s victory in Super Bowl XLIX, Brandon Bolden once again projects to be core special teamer. While his offensive contributions will likely be limited, he is still a candidate not only to earn a roster spot but to earn yet another contract extension.