Bolden buttoned up at Friday rookie camp

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Bolden buttoned up at Friday rookie camp

FOXBORO -- Friday was the first day of school for freshmen.
Rookie mini camp.
It's accurate to say all six who were made available -- from undrafted free agent Brandon Bolden to Alabama first-rounder Dont'a Hightower -- were nervous. It's also fair to say Bolden may have been more nervous than most.
"Glad to be here," Bolden said, standing before his first career reporter hoard. Over the next six minutes he worked up a brilliant sweat under the lights.
Bolden was projected as a fifth to sixth round pick, in no small part because of character and maturity concerns. The cause for concern, however, is unclear.
In 2011, the Ole Miss captain was suspended for one of the biggest games of the year, a tilt with Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, for infracting team rules. But there aren't other strikes to write conclusively about.
Not that you can't ask if you're interested.
"Come investigate it," Bolden challenged. "Just watch me. I really don't have an answer for 'em."
So compounding the nervousness was a slight edge. The running back was loath to open up, to say the wrong thing.
"Pretty sure it was pretty much like everybody else's," Bolden said of the draft weekend. "There wasn't anything special about my experience -- just sitting by the phone. There was Really was no kind of stellar emotion, it was just a sigh of relief that it was over."
Relief? To go undrafted?
"Just that the entire draft process was over. Getting drafted, going undrafted it really didn't matter. I just wanted to play football."
If you think he'd ease up in context of the game, well, you'd be wrong. Bolden's path has been compared to that of former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis' for several reasons: they're running backs, both went to Ole Miss, both went undrafted, both ended up in New England.
But Bolden isn't interested in the parallel. Understandable, since he hasn't played a snap in the NFL.
"Ben was at Ole Miss the four years before I was there; he was walking out the door as I was coming in. He's a great guy, a great running back. I watched a lot of film on him.
"Honestly, I haven't paid much attention to it. Ben did what he did because that's what Ben does. And I'm coming in trying to make it as he did."
Their styles are considered similar. Though Green-Ellis' ball security is basically irreplaceable -- zero career fumbles in both college and the pros -- Bolden has, according to Pro Football Weekly, good hands. He's also a fluid, "effective inside runner" with "nice vision and good feet in tight corners."
Today beings the process of unfurling it all on the field. Bolden doesn't have to give reporters two full sentences for the rest of the season (and he might not, per New England's usual rookie treatment), but where he doesn't have to tell, he must show.
"There's a lot of young guys and everybody's trying to prove the same point. Why not throw my two cents in as well? I'm just here to make them better, to push them as well as they're going to push me.
"That's why I'm here to try and figure out what I need to do. They're going to evaluate me just like they're going to do everybody else. Just try. Just try my hardest, that's all I can do."

Despite Crowder's ties to Falcons, Celtics pulling for Patriots in Super Bowl

Despite Crowder's ties to Falcons, Celtics pulling for Patriots in Super Bowl

WALTHAM --  Go up and down the Boston Celtics roster and you won’t have any trouble finding players who will be cheering on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
 
But there are some Celtics who understandably have mixed feelings about the game.
 
Among them is Jae Crowder, who grew up in Villa Rica, Ga. which is about 32 miles outside of Atlanta.
 
“I’ve been cheering for the Falcons all my life,” Crowder said. “I’m here in Boston; I’ve been a Patriots fan.”
 
And within that fandom, Crowder has developed a friendship with New England players, among them being Patriots running back LaGarrette Blount.
 
Not soon after the Patriots punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, Crowder got a text message from Blount.
 
“He knows,” Crowder said of Blount. “Yeah, he knows I’m in between.”
 
Isaiah Thomas, whose hometown Seattle Seahawks were beaten by the Falcons, said Crowder didn’t become a Falcons fan until they made the playoffs.
 
“Bandwagon? But I just took his money though,” quipped Crowder, referring to the Falcons beating the Seahawks in an earlier round of the playoffs. “We did them Seahawks real dirty; bandwagon.”
 
He’s not the only Celtics player with ties to Atlanta.
 
Boston rookie Jaylen Brown grew up just a few minutes outside of Atlanta in Marietta, Ga.
 
Thomas said Brown is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
 
“I don’t know how that is,” Thomas said. “Don’t let him tell you he’s an Atlanta Falcons fan. Jae just started reppin’ them when they made the playoffs. They can do what they want; they might as well root for the Patriots.”
 
For Thomas, cheering for the Patriots is more than just supporting his fellow professional athletes. As he tries to continue growing as a player and a leader for the Celtics, the Patriots and the way they do things in many ways has been a blueprint of sorts for Thomas.
 
“They’re the team you want to be,” Thomas said. “Every year they give themselves a chance. From top to bottom, they’re 100 percent professional. They think championship every year. That’s how you should be. We want to model that. Hopefully the can go out and win it, and we can try to piggy-pack on what they did.”
 
Another Celtic with Atlanta ties is Al Horford, who made it clear which team had his support.
 
“Going to school in Florida, being in the south for so many years, college football is kind of my thing,” said Horford, who revealed that he never attended a Falcons during his nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. “I would watch them on TV and stuff like that. I know it’s exciting for them. It’s a big deal to be in the Super Bowl. But I’m here in New England now so I’ll be cheering for the Patriots.”

Andy Dalton named Tom Brady's Pro Bowl replacement

Andy Dalton named Tom Brady's Pro Bowl replacement

With Tom Brady spending this week and next preparing for the Super Bowl, Andy Dalton has been named his replacement in the Pro Bowl. 

This will mark Dalton’s third Pro Bowl appearance. He finished fourth in the AFC in passing yards (4,206) and tied for 10th with 18 passing touchdowns. Brady threw 10 more touchdowns in four fewer games. 

Though he’s often skipped the actual games, this was the 12th season in which Brady was named to the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster. He’s been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last eight seasons.