|Running back Brandon Bolden ready to try and make his mark in New England||05.11.12 at 7:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — You can’t fault the Patriots for sticking to the template. After all, the last time they plucked an undrafted free agent running back out of Ole Miss, it worked out pretty well for them in BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
So when Green-Ellis departed as a free agent this offseason, they went back to the well for another Ole Miss running back in Brandon Bolden. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Bolden finished his collegiate career ranked second in school history in both total touchdowns scored (33) and rushing touchdowns (27), third in all-purpose yards (3,681) and fourth in rushing yards (2,604).
And while Bolden was deferential to Green-Ellis’ legacy at Ole Miss and with the Patriots, he’s clearly interested in making his own name in New England.
“Ben was at Ole Miss the [two] years before I was there; he was walking out the door as I was coming in. He’s a great guy, a great running back. I watched a lot of film on him,” Bolden said of Green Ellis, who had 2.064 rushing yards (including 1,008 in 2010) in 53 career games with the Patriots.
“[But] honestly, I haven’t paid much attention to it. Ben did what he did because that’s what Ben does. And I’m coming in trying to make it as he did.”
A 2011 captain at Ole Miss, Bolden, originally thought to be a mid- to late-round selection, dropped out of the draft altogether. One reason could be his injury history — Bolden finished with 976 rushing yard and 14 rushing touchdowns as a junior, but suffered a fractured ankle in his first game as a senior. The injury limited him to 462 yards last year.
“Just trying to get in the training room and get better every day. Every since the injury, just trying to get better each and every day. Still doing it,” he said. “I’m a guy that looks forward. The injury happened… everything happens for a reason. I’m just looking forward.”
However, some believe that it was character concerns, which stemmed from a suspension for a one-game suspension which sidelined him for a game against Alabama. He has a straightforward answer for those who might question his character.
“Come investigate it. Just watch me. I really don’t have an answer for ‘em,” he said flatly. “LIke I said earlier, [I'm] just looking forward. I kind of don’t dwell on the past, just looking forward. Things happen. You can’t control anything.”
Bolden, who called the Patriots “a great organization,” has an opportunity to join a backfield that’s in a bit of flux. The Patriots lost Green-Ellis to free agency, while the future for veteran back Kevin Faulk remains murky. In addition, Joseph Addai joins the Patriots after six seasons with Indy, and will be part of a group that includes young backs Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead.
He’s certainly going to take advantage of his opportunity this weekend, as he’s the only rookie on the roster at minicamp, and one of two backs on the minicamp roster. (Eric Kettani is the other.)
“There’s a lot of young guys and everybody’s trying to prove the same point. Why not throw my two cents in as well? I’m just here to make them better, to push them as well as they’re going to push me,” Bolden said. “They’re going to evaluate me just like they’re going to do everybody else. Just try. Just try my hardest — that’s all I can do.”
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