Bolden exemption; 4 workouts; Kopa gone

As was expected, the Patriots have received a roster exemption on running back Brandon Bolden, who served the final of a four-game suspension on Sunday, according to a league source. The exemption lasts until Tuesday, Dec. 11, the day after the Patriots' Monday night game with the Houston Texans.

That means the Patriots will have up until next Tuesday to decide what to do with the running back, who missed time prior to his suspension due to a knee injury suffered in Week 6 against Seattle. Assuming Bolden is healthy enough to play again this season, it would figure that the team will activate him to the 53-man roster.

A return from Bolden would give the Patriots another option from the backfield. Bolden (5-11, 220) showed earlier in 2012 that he has the ability to be a power runner between the tackles, comparable to Stevan Ridley. Bolden's absence has coincided with the emergence of running back Shane Vereen, whose athleticism and pass catching skills have made an impact on the offense.

Bolden was suspended for a violation of the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham received a similar ban last Monday, and will not be eligible to return to the team until Dec. 24.

In addition to receiving the exemption on Bolden, the Patriots hosted four players for a workout on Monday, a league source confirmed.

Defensive lineman Marcus Benard (formerly of the Browns), defensive lineman Tim Crowder (last with the Buccaneers), linebacker Brian Rolle (released by the Eagles earlier this season), and linebacker Quinton Spears (last with the Browns) were all in Foxborough for a workout.

Tom E. Curran of Comcast Sports Net first reported the workouts.

Also, offensive tackle Matt Kopa -- who spent most of the last two seasons on the Patriots' practice squad -- has been signed to the Eagles' 53-man roster.

The Patriots lost defensive back Sterling Moore (now with Cowboys) off the practice squad on Friday, and likely planned to have receiver Greg Salas return to the practice squad before he was claimed by the Eagles in November, so the team has taken some hits in that area.