FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With the New England Patriots set to place running back LeGarrette Blount on season-ending injured reserve with a left hip injury, four-year veteran Brandon Bolden likely will get thrust into the top power back role.
"Brandon has got a real good skill set. He has been a valuable guy for us on all four downs, so whether it’s carrying the ball, making tough yards, playing as a sub back and playing in the kicking game, he’s shown a lot of versatility and given us a lot of quality plays in all those situations," coach Bill Belichick said. "He’s got good quickness. He’s got the ability to break tackles in space with his playing strength, but he also has quickness to make guys miss out there, too. He’s got good run vision, sees the holes and sees where there is space."
Added offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: "Brandon’s a talented guy. He’s had a lot of different situations come up during the course of his career here, whether through injury or otherwise. He’s really done a nice job for us coming in and filling in, and he’s gone over 100 yards. He’s had some big runs, he’s carried the ball in cold, sloppy weather and protected it for us as he’s matured and grown in our system. He’s a dependable guy. We trust him to blitz pick-up. We trust him to be in the game in those critical situations when you get a lot of different looks from the defense."
Here are five things to know about the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Bolden:
1. Underdog story in 2012 training camp. As an undrafted free agent from Mississippi, he performed well in 2012 training camp and made the initial 53-man roster. In college, Bolden had ranked second in school history in total touchdowns (33) and rushing touchdowns (27), was third in all-purpose yards (3,681) and fourth in rushing yards (2,604) but went undrafted mostly because of past suspensions. He has since earned the reputation of being a dependable teammate in New England, where he has played in 50 regular-season games and seven playoff games.
2. Has seldom been called on to carry the load. In his rookie season, Bolden had a career-high 137 yards on 16 carries in a 52-28 win at Buffalo when the Patriots favored a power running approach. He has had only one other game with as many as 16 carries, and it came in Sunday night's win over the Texans after Blount was injured. So he has only 174 career carries, a limited offensive workload coming as a result of playing behind power backs Stevan Ridley, Blount and Jonas Gray.
3. Special teams is his niche. He is one of the Patriots' better special-teams players, and that's the main reason he initially made the roster as an undrafted rookie. He has 17 career special-teams tackles, playing a core role on multiple units. He had signed a two-year, $2.3 million contract extension in January that included a $300,000 signing bonus, which was reflective more of a special teamer than a top offensive option.
4. Brady calls him a friend. One of Bolden's signature moments this year came when he replaced the injured Dion Lewis in a Nov. 8 victory over Washington and caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady up the right sideline. After the game, Brady said, "I love Brandon [and] everything he brings to our team. He's been here for a while, has great leadership. Just a great player. A great friend."
5. Family ties in the NFL. His grandfather, Frank Pitts, played 10 years in the NFL as a receiver for the Chiefs, Browns and Raiders. With Kansas City, he played in two Super Bowls, losing Super Bowl I and winning Super Bowl IV. Bolden calls Pitts his role model.