During the week of roster finalization in the NFL, it’s always safe to assume what the initial 53-man team is will change frequently in the days following. The Patriots announced their roster on Tuesday evening and would follow that up the next day with those they retained for the practice squad. Nearly all those brought back were cut the day before, but that changed on Thursday when the team announced a new receiver was coming to Foxboro.
Bill Belichick would sign former Dolphins receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to the practice squad, just nine days before their matchup in week one. Although many believe this to be a calculated move because of that, Bowden was a heavy favorite to be drafted to New England in 2020 but was ultimately selected by the Raiders.
Who is Lynn Bowden Jr.?
- HEIGHT: 5’11”
- WEIGHT: 203 pounds
- COLLEGE: University of Kentucky
- ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2018 season: #1 in punt returns in NCAA and SEC
2019 season: #1 in rushing yards and rushing yards per attempt, #2 in rushing TDs in SEC
- AWARDS: Paul Hornung Award winner in 2019
Throughout his college career at Kentucky, Bowden was the epitome of what an adaptable player is. Listed as a wide receiver, he would show he’s far more capable than just catching passes.
Bowden would split his time between ball carrier, receiver, and kick/punt returner. And he would even dabble in a few wildcat quarterback plays as well. This inevitably led to him winning the Paul Hornung Award his junior year, the best season of his college career.
Bowden’s stats through 3 seasons at Kentucky:
- 2017: 12 games – 17 receptions for 210 yards | 12 carries for 37 yards
–3/4 completions for 92 yards and 1 interception
—37 kick returns for 869 yards
- 2018: 13 games – 67 receptions for 745 yards and 5 touchdowns
-9 carries for 25 yards
–25 kick returns for 539 yards
—5 punt returns for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns
- 2019: 13 games – 30 receptions for 328 yards and 1 touchdown
-185 carries for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns
–35/74 completions for 403 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
—9 kick returns for 220 yards | 4 punt returns for 53 yards
What has he done since joining the NFL in 2020?
Despite his selection by the Raiders in the third round, the team would trade Bowden to the Dolphins just four months later. He would go on to play in 10 games his rookie season with his incredible versatility on full display.
Bowden’s 2020 stats with the Dolphins
- RECEIVING STATS: 28/37 receptions (75.7% ctch) for 211 yards
- RUSHING STATS: 9 carries for 32 yards
- PASSING STATS: 1/2 completions for 32 yards
He would go on to spend the 2021 season on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason. This forced him down the depth chart, but he made quite the impression with his performance in preseason this summer.
However, with the new staff in Miami making various changes this year, Bowden would be released earlier this week, allowing Belichick to scoop him up after clearing waivers.
What makes Bowden a good fit for the Patriots?
The versatility he possesses is what made him a favorite by many experts for the Patriots to draft, as Belichick is known for admiring a player who can do it all.
Bowden has the flexibility to line up almost anywhere in the offense, at receiver or running back, and even at quarterback. Because the Patriots lost their top versatile players this offseason (Brandon Bolden and James White), Bowden could bring a new dynamic that the offense is missing.
He could be elevated as soon as week one, with both Tyquan Thornton and Ty Montgomery missing time due to injury. His presence would be a big boost in Montgomery’s absence particularly, as he stood out in practices this summer as the leading WR/RB combo on the team.
Bowden does face some competition on the practice squad though, as he joins a long list of offensive players vying for a chance to play in a regular season game. But because he has proven capabilities in multiple positions on the team, he may edge out the others to take the field sooner than later.