4. Brandon Bolden
Outside of Phillip Dorsett, Brandon Bolden has to be the biggest surprise story for this Patriots offensive roster in 2019. Now in his eighth season in the league, Bolden primarily was a special teams contributor through his first six years in the NFL (all with the Patriots).
He received a decent share of rushing attempts in 2012, 2013, and 2015, but usually he was only in the game on offense if there was an injury to New England’s primary running back, or if that primary running back fumbled the ball at an inopportune time (we’re looking at you, Stevan Ridley).
Still, Bolden made the most of his opportunities on offense, however few they were. In those first six seasons with the Patriots, he averaged better than 4.9 yards per rush in half of them.
Released by the Pats after the 2017 season, Bolden spent a year with the Miami Dolphins, where he primarily served as the third option at running back behind Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. As anyone with eyes and a brain could tell you, Miami was a steep downgrade from New England, and 18 months after his release from the Patriots, he re-signed with them on a two year contract.
Bolden’s value to the team has exploded since beginning his second stint as a Patriot. He’s still just as skilled and dynamic as ever on special teams, but due to a strange combination of factors (Rex Burkhead’s injury, Sony Michel’s ineffectiveness, James White’s son being born), he has also become highly involved all season in the New England offense.
In just six games, Bolden has already tied his career high in total touchdowns, with two on the ground and one through the air. He has 117 total yards from scrimmage – 45 rushing and 72 receiving. Those numbers are pretty darn good for a guy who started the season No. 4 on the Patriots’ running back depth chart.