Strictly judging by appearances, veteran Brandon Bolden is currently the leader in the clubhouse for Shane Vereen’s third down back role. He’s moved ahead of second-year back James White and everyone else.
Bolden has been the main man for Tom Brady as the pass catching/blocking back during the past three practices.
He was the primary guy during Friday's session. But one practice doesn’t mean much. It could be a rotation type deal. But then, he was the lead again Saturday. So we've started a trend. Three days? Can't be a coincidence. We're onto something.
Things are starting to look up for fourth year RB Brandon Bolden out of Ole Miss. Brandon has excelled on special teams for the New England Patriots. He is clearly a better blocker than the other running backs, Travaris Cadet and James White. This is a key ingredient in determining who will emerge as the third down back for Tom Brady.
The departure of Shane Vereen to the New York Giants opened up a huge hole in the New England offense. Vereen left on a high note catching 11 passes for 64 yards in Super Bowl XLIX. The Patriots mustered only 57 yards on the ground against the Seattle Seahawks, but utilized the third down back five times on the winning drive.
The path for consistent playing time on third down is based on the most important ability - availability. Travaris Cadet is injured. James White has regressed. Legarette Blount is both suspended and injured. Jonas Gray has moved to feature back status, but he has spent time in Bill Belichick's doghouse after oversleeping last year. For Brandon Bolden, “I’m attacking everything with the same mindset: head down, eyes open, focused on just doing what I have to do.”
It was November, 2012 when Brandon Bolden was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. That was light years ago. If Tom Brady can get his four game suspension overturned, Tom may be throwing more to Brandon than the three passes he did in yesterday's practice.
Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire. .
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