Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Bolden & the Patriots' running backs

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One leftover from Tuesday's organized team activity was the status of second-year running back Brandon Bolden, who wasn't on the practice field with his teammates.

Bolden's absence Tuesday was health-related, as he has been taking part in the team's offseason program but hasn't been cleared to participate on the field as he continues to rehab an undisclosed ailment.

Bolden, who missed two games last season with a knee injury and four because of a league-issued suspension, appeared in 10 regular-season games in 2012. He finished with 274 rushing yards on 56 carries and two touchdowns, and coaches credited him with six special teams tackles. His highlight came Sept. 30 against the Bills when the Patriots turned to a power running game against an undersized Bills' sub defense and Bolden churned out a team-high 137 yards on 16 carries (8.6 avg.) and a touchdown. The following week is when he first showed up on the injury report (knee).

Bolden's status could have some connection to the Patriots acquiring LeGarrette Blount in a draft-day trade with the Buccaneers; more depth never hurts, especially when a team is managing injuries/rehabilitation at the position.

Between projected top back Stevan Ridley (5-11, 220), Bolden (5-11, 220) and Blount (6-0, 247), the Patriots currently feature one of their biggest offensive backfields in Bill Belichick's coaching tenure. Shane Vereen (5-9, 205) and Leon Washington (5-8, 203) offer a change-of-pace element at running back, with rookie free-agent Akeem Shavers (5-11, 203) also in that category.

Bolden's health status bears monitoring as training camp nears in late July.