By Tom E. CurranEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Over the next two days, Brandon Bolden will be feeling anxiety over something totallyunfamiliar to him. He'll be worrying about making a team.Think about it. Even a player like Bolden - undrafted andunheralded out of Ole Miss - has never reallyhad to sweat cutdown day. He's anelite athlete.In high school and college, teams build around talent like his. Here, with the New England Patriots, he's a running back just trying to hang on. It will be the same thing for about 1,000 players until Friday at 9 p.m. As teams cut from 75 down to 53, a lot of guys will be thinking back wondering, "Did I do enough."Bolden hopes he did. He closed his preseason with a 15-carry, 59-yard performance against the Giants in a dog of a game that featured only the players near the bottom of the roster trying to make these NFL teams. "I felt like I left it all out there on the field," said Bolden, the tips of his black dreads still yellow from the dye used during rookie initiations. "I tried to do everything I could."Has he been thinking about trying to make a splash, knowing he had to do something to join the running back stable of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead? "I took that thought two weeks ago and threw it away and tried not to think about it as much as possible," he explained. "Even though that is true, it kinda hinders your game if you let that sit in the back of your mind." Bolden wasn't amazing. Neither was the blocking in front of him from a line made up of players mostly in the same position he's in. He also had a big gaffe when he misjudged a punt and muffed it. Fortunately, another rookie - Jeff Demps - fell on it to retain possession for the Patriots. "Still got work to do on the punt return game of course," he admitted. "I gave as much as I could to try to make it work. I felt like I became a lot more comfortable. With the new level after playing college, I needed to get adjusted to it and I felt like I did."In a different situation than Bolden is third-year defensive end Jermaine Cunningham. After a moribund 2011, he's sprung into relevance in the 4-3. Against the Giants, he had two sacks, drew a holding penalty andhad a pressure as well. He seems to have applied himself and adjusted to the NFL. He's gone from being on the bubble, perhaps, before training camp to likely making the team with ease. Friday night, when I remarked that he played well, Cunningham said, "It really counts during the season, hoping to have a good season."He's not going to have the same trepidation as Bolden.Trevor Scott says he's "not really worried" about making the team, but the free agent signee from Oakland realizes the talent around him- Cunningham being part of that. "This team is so stacked, sodeep," Scott said. "I feel like I did all I could tonight. I feel like it was very competitive tonight both sides of the ball. Now you just let the chips lay where they fall. I'm not really all that worried. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. If it's not, hopefully something else will work out. It's one of those things. I really have no control of the situation now. I feel like I put all my film out on the field and they make their decisions."And it is about film, said veteran Bobby Carpenter. Making sure that every time a coach hits rewind, you're in the right spot, doing the right thing and doing it effectively. "You've put everything on tape and you let the coaches make the decisions," he explained. "That's really all you can do. It's tough but everybody knows the situation you get into. Play hard, put it on tape and go from there."I asked Bolden if he feels he's made the team. "I have no clue," he admitted. "No clue at all. To be honest, I'm really not worried about it. I left that back a long, looong time ago. I tried to get out there and do the best that I could to the best of my ability and we'll see what happens."
After the damage the hypocritical NFL has done to Tom Brady's reputation, what allegiance should he have to 'The Shield' or 'The 32'?