Viewing the four-game suspension of rookie running back Brandon Bolden for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances through a few different lenses:
1. Purely football. Bolden has been on the field for 72 of 638 offensive snaps this season (including penalties), the third highest total among Patriots running backs. He has also been a core performer on special teams. Bolden, one of the team’s power backs along with Stevan Ridley, has missed the last two games with a knee injury. The Patriots have Ridley (45 percent of the snaps), Danny Woodhead (33.2 percent) and Shane Vereen (7.8 percent) at running back and should be OK there. It’s a blow for the team, but not a major one.
2. The performance-enhancing substance. The NFL, in announcing the suspension on Friday, did not reveal the substance that Bolden used to violate league policy. Because of this, the first instinct from here is to resist jumping to conclusions on Bolden. Players are responsible for what they put into their bodies, and how it’s reported to the teams for which they play, and there was an obvious breakdown somewhere in the process here. Any way it’s viewed, Bolden is held accountable for that. But until more information becomes available, we’re going to tread lightly.
3. Getting deeper into Bolden. On Sept. 22, Bolden’s “football journey” was chronicled on ESPNBoston.com. One can’t possibly learn everything about a 22-year-old in such an interview, but the link is being passed along here because Bolden is in the news.