|Source: Brandon Bolden signs extension with Patriots||01.09.15 at 8:50 am ET|
According to a source, Patriots running back Brandon Bolden has signed a contract extension with the team.
The news was first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates, who says it is a two-year deal worth $2.32 million, which goes through the end of the 2016 season.
Bolden has been a core special teams player during his three years in New England, but does have 634 rushing yards on 139 carries and six touchdowns in his three years, with only 89 yards coming this season. His best game rushing came in his rookie season when he rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries in a Week 4 win against the Bills.
The 24-year-old was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2012 draft coming out of Mississippi.
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|Brandon Bolden, Tim Wright won’t be too wrapped up in Bengals-Broncos||12.22.14 at 3:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Despite the fact that if Cincinnati finds a way to beat Denver Monday night — which would clinch the top seed in the AFC for New England — a few of the Patriots said they don’t plan on spending too much time wrapped up in the Bengals-Broncos game.
“I don’t even think I’m watching the game tonight — I’ve actually got a birthday party I’ve got to get to,” confessed running back Brandon Bolden in the locker room Monday afternoon. “Nobody is really talking about it. Everybody is still trying to recover from the Jets game, the war we had yesterday, so I think everybody is going to take the rest of the day to try to just recover.
“If they watch football, they do. But I don’t think anybody is rooting for anybody.”
If Denver beats Cincinnati, that would mean New England’s regular-season finale against the Bills next Sunday at Gillette would still be in play as a meaningful contest as it relates to the playoff chase. As far as tight end Tim Wright is concerned, the focus on Buffalo is the bigger priority for the Patriots.
“It’s going to be a good game,” said Wright when asked about Bengals and Broncos. “[But] we’re not really looking past what has to go on with the Bills — what’s coming up next for us. But it’s going to be a good game for them.
“[We’re] just focused on the Bills.”
|Brandon Bolden happy to provide Patriots ‘boost we needed’ in win over Chargers||12.08.14 at 3:08 am ET|
SAN DIEGO — It was the biggest play of the game.
The Patriots were stumbling and bumbling on offense and couldn’t finish the deal in the red zone in the first half.
Then Brandon Bolden came off left side and blew right into Mike Scifres, blocked a punt with a thunderous thud and the Patriots were in business at the Chargers’ 25. Four plays later, Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown and the Patriots were down just a point, 14-13.
Momentum changed thanks to Bolden. The Patriots would wind up winning 23-14 and everyone after the game pointed to Bolden’s play.
“You go into the game thinking you can block one every time it’s called,” Bolden said. “I think I just got a really good jump on the snap count. I don’t think there was anything he did extra or I did extra. I just got off it quick.”
On the play, Scifres injured his left shoulder and had to be carted off the field.
“I didn’t even know he was hurt until after I made it back to the sidelines and everything calmed down,” Bolden said. “I went and checked on him and he said everything was going to be fine.”
So, too, would be the Patriots. The blocked punt set the tone for the defense, with Brandon Browner laying the wood to Ledarius Green in the third quarter.
“Special teams can be a big momentum shifter for any team,” Bolden said. “For this team, it was that boost we needed, and when that happened everything picked up. That momentum shifted and we rode that wave, so I think we did a good job offensively and defensively after that play to stay in the ball game.”
Bolden was asked after the game why he thinks the Patriots have now won 10 straight times after a loss.
“Let’s just say this: Around here, after a loss nobody likes that feeling. We especially don’t like that feeling, so everybody just takes it on their shoulders and says we have to go out there and do better.”
|5 thoughts on return of LeGarrette Blount, state of Patriots running game||11.21.14 at 12:12 am ET|
1. In stark contrast to the nasty words that were coming out of the Pittsburgh locker room in the wake of what happened with LeGarrette Blount over the last week, on Thursday, the vibe around the Patriots was all good when it came to the newest Patriot. Special teams captain Matthew Slater called him a “great teammate,” while fullback James Develin said it was “good” to have him back. Meanwhile, Jonas Gray — who likely will see his role shrink some with the addition of Blount — said he had no problem with the move, adding that the veteran is is a “great guy to learn from.” As for what sort of role awaits him, it’s likely he’ll split duties with Gray as the primary between-the-tackles back, as well as serve as some sort of insurance policy if the stage gets too big for the youngster, or if he puts the ball on the ground at some point. It’s also possible he sees time as a part-time kick returner — with the occasional exception of Danny Amendola, no one has really done much to distinguish themselves in the position. With his background last year, it certainly makes sense for the Patriots to give him a shot back there.
2. Few teams have seen the type of turnover at the running back position as New England. With the injury to Ridley, if form holds, the Patriots will have their sixth different back lead the team in rushing in 2014 over the last decade — only four other teams (Saints, Browns, Broncos and Cardinals) have had more. Corey Dillon (2004-2006), Laurence Maroney (2007, 2009), Sammy Morris (2008), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2010-2011) and Stevan Ridley (2012-2013). And now, with Ridley on the shelf the rest of the year, this season it figures to be either Vereen, Gray or Blount. That could change again next year, as Brandon Bolden, Ridley and Shane Vereen are all in the final year of their contracts, while Blount, Gray and rookie James White are all under contract for 2015. (In addition, Tyler Gaffney, who was claimed by the Patriots this summer but is spending the year on injured reserve because of a knee issue, is still a possibility to be a part of the mix next season.) Regardless, even with all the changes, things could still change between now and the start of next season.
3. As forward thinking as the Patriots offense — and the passing game in particular — has been the last few years, there’s something impressively retro about what New England might be able to do this season. If we operate with the idea that a “running back by committee” includes a team with four backs with at least 40 carries, it appears that for the second straight season, the Patriots will attempt to be the first team to win a Super Bowl using the “running back by committee” approach since the 1987 Redskins, who won Super Bowl. Right now, the Patriots three different backs reach with at least 69 carries (Ridley with 94, Vereen with 70 and Gray with 69). While some of those numbers are borne out of necessarily since Ridley went down, if Blount is able to click down the stretch for New England — and it’s entirely possible he can hit the 40-carry mark, given his experience in the system — he would be a fourth. If the Patriots could take the title, it would represent the greatest cross-section of work for running backs for any Super Bowl champion since that Washington team emerged with a win in Super Bowl XXII. (Of course, that Redskins team could be discounted on a penalty, as that was a strike year and one of the backs was a scab who rushed 80 times in three strike games but never played another down. If you disqualify them on a technicality, them the last true RBBC team to win a Super Bowl in a non-strike year was the 1981 Niners, a team that had five different backs finish with 40 carries or more: Ricky Patton, Earl Cooper, Johnny Davis, Walt Easley and Paul Hofer.)
|Patriots running backs prepared to fill void left in wake of Stevan Ridley’s season-ending injury||10.15.14 at 7:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — With Stevan Ridley reportedly lost for the year with a torn ACL and MCL, the Patriots have their work cut out for them to make up for his loss.
Of the Patriots’ 660 yards rushing this season, Ridley has accounted for 52 percent of them — 340 yards.
There is no question Shane Vereen will be a player who will likely step up with the loss of Ridley, but his style is more catching passes out of the backfield and only run on draw plays — not be a No. 1 back. Vereen hasn’t had a game this season with more than nine carries, but does have 18 catches for 114 yards.
New England will likely use all of their backs and ride the hot hand each week to make up for the loss of the fourth-year running back. Here is a look at the three other players and how they now view their roles:
Bolden has the most experience of the three as he has 126 career rushing attempts for 570 yards with five touchdowns, now in his third season in the league. While Bolden said he hasn’t been notified of a No. 1 back role, he feels he could be one if given the opportunity.
“Anybody in the league thinks that, but no, as of now I am here to do whatever the team asks me to do,” said Bolden.
Bolden has played a significant role on special teams this season — securing his spot on the game roster each week — but now, because of his experience, he may soon be playing a significant role in the running game rather than on special teams.
|Stevan Ridley sees ‘drastic’ improvement in Patriots rushing attack||09.17.14 at 4:54 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Sometimes one week can make all the difference in the world.
In Week 1 against the Dolphins the Patriots ran for just 89 yards, only 28 of them coming in the second half as they ran just seven running plays the final 30 minutes of the game. Week 2 against the Vikings was a different story as the team ran for 150 total yards, 96 of them coming in the second half.
Stevan Ridley led the way, rushing for 101 yards on 21 carries.
“We’ve improved each week. I think Miami to Minnesota, I think [the offense and offensive line] made a drastic improvement,” Ridley said. “We all keep leaning on each other and relying on each other. I think we’re going to be OK towards the end of the year.”
On a personal level, the key for Ridley was staying patient as he only rushed for 29 yards in the first half, but was able to pick it up in the second half against a tired and demoralized Minnesota defense.
“Every back goes out there and wants to take it the distance, but there are going to be times that it’s going to be just two yards, three yards and you just have to keep plugging,” said Ridley. “You have stay disciplined as a runner and keep your legs moving and falling forward. That’s what you have to do to get the tough yardage, eventually they are going to break and you’ll get some big runs.”
Overall, the Patriots rank 16th in the NFL in rushing, this after being ranked 21st following Week 1. Like Ridley said, the Patriots are focused on getting better each week, wanting to reach its peak once December and the end of the season hits.
Ridley isn’t the only back who has seen time as Shane Vereen has been a force both in the running game and catching passes out of the backfield. Vereen has 76 yards on 13 carries and has caught six passes for 35 yards. Running the ball effectively and with consistency goes a long way in the Patriots offense as the team is 38-1 when a player runs for 100 yards or more under Bill Belichick.
“It’s only Week 3. The first week we struggled and the second week we got it going. There’s a lot of football left to be played, so I don’t want to jump in front of myself. From week-to-week I see improvement and that’s all we can ask for, especially with the group of guys that we have up there. There are some new faces – I think we all know that – but, like I said we’re just going in week in and week out showing what we can do,” Ridley said. “Eventually, these upcoming weeks, hopefully we will have a balanced attack going into every game and that’s what makes us hard [to stop]. The key word is hard work around here and that’s what we do.”
|Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley: ‘We never want the ball out’||08.17.14 at 12:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Here we go again.
It’s only the preseason but the question of Stevan Ridley and ball security has arisen once more.
On his seventh carry Friday night against the Eagles, Ridley ran off to his right, behind the right guard and just as he appeared to be falling routinely to the ground at the Philadelphia 10, the ball came out.
It was recovered by fullback James Develin so the Patriots managed to salvage the red zone chance and finished it off when Jimmy Garoppolo found Brandon LaFell in the back of the end zone.
There was some question as to whether it was a fumble at all as Ridley was close to having his backside on the turf when the ball came out when safety Earl Wolff stripped it out. But to head coach Bill Belichick, who has been down this road for the last three seasons with Ridley, whether it was down by contact was not the issue.
“We always talk about ball security, taking care of the ball. There’s nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers, so that’s always a high priority for us,” Belichick said in his Saturday conference call. “We never want the ball out and on the other side of the ball defensively and in the kicking game, we always try to get it out. Sometimes when we get the ball out, we don’t recover it or sometimes when we get it out they blow it dead but we always want to try to do that. The same goes true for the offensive side of the ball.”
Ridley came out of the game on what appeared to be his normal rotation but when he began to sprint on the field before the LaFell touchdown, he was called back and Brandon Bolden took his place. Bolden had two runs and rookie James White had another as Ridley was given time to consider his indiscretion.
“We don’t want plays where they end up with the ball, whether they’re ruled in our favor or not,” Belichick said. “Guys that have an interception in their hands but drop it or plays where the ball gets away from us, whether we recover it or it goes out of bounds or they recover it, those are all plays we’re trying to avoid, obviously. They do matter. So do the ones that, same thing on defense, the plays that we get out, we don’t get them all but the more we get them out, the more we’ll get, so they are significant.”
Ridley’s trouble with holding onto the ball is well-chronicled in New England. He has lost four fumbles in each of the last two seasons and was benched for the AFC championship and Super Bowl in his rookie season when he lost a fumble in the regular season finale and a playoff win over the Texans in Jan. 2012. Still, Ridley remains one of the most productive runners in the Patriots backfield, averaging 4.5 yards and rushing for 20 touchdowns in his first three seasons in New England.