Bolden making an early impression

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Bolden making an early impression

FOXBORO -- With two practice fields stacked with nearly 90 players, a staff of coaches and support staff and myriad drills, it's hard to have your eyes on all of it at once.

Sometimes, you catch a glimpse of something as it starts to unfold and watch for a second. Often, you can identify the player based on what he does or how he moves if he's been around long enough. You don't even need to see the jersey number.

Other times, you see a player flash, look at the jersey number and realize you don't have immediate recall of his game. That's what it's been like with undrafted rookie Brandon Bolden.

The Ole Miss running back hasn't dominated camp but he runs, catches, blocks and moves in a completely NFL appropriate manner. So far, he looks like he belongs.

"He seems like he's done a decent job in the areas we've asked him to work in," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday. "Special teams, he can catch the ball, has some skill in the passing game. Had some production in the running game in college. We've only seen that in drills but based on college it looks like he can run the ball. Pretty smart guy, can catch, play in the kicking game. Like all the rookies he's made plenty of mistakes but he's definitely made progress."

This being a day on which Belichick was in a curt mood, those words were the equivalent of an ode to excellence.

Bolden is definitely in a position where he can make the 53-man roster out of camp. If the team keeps four running backs, that would mean it's Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead and Bolden. At least at this early juncture.

Belichick signaled that things will grow tougher this week, though.

"By the end of this week, we'll see how everybody's holding up," he predicted. "Then once we get closer to the Saints week (August 7-9) then our install will be closer to the top. It will just keep piling up. Some guys may be able to handle that. Other guys may get a little . . . congested. We'll see how it goes."

Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

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Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2. 

The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively. 

With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.

Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.

Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

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Rex Ryan: 'If Belichick's playing quarterback, we're coming after him'

Must be Bills week. 

After Rex Ryan's club put together an impressive win at home over the Cardinals, 33-18, it wasn't long before the Bills coach was yapping about the Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick.

Ryan was asked about the quarterback situation in New England since both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are dealing with injuries at the moment. Who might the Bills see when they visit Gillette Stadium?

"Look, I can sit back and say I don’t care who plays quarterback, cuz I know (Tom) Brady ain’t," he said. "I don’t care who plays quarterback; Steve Grogan can play quarterback. If Belichick’s playing quarterback, we’re coming after him. I promise you that."

There's no indication yet as to whether or not Garoppolo or Brissett will be unavailable for Week 4. When asked about his level of concern when it came to his quarterbacks, Belichick didn't say much during a conference call on Sunday

Ryan, like the rest of us, will probably have to wait for the Patriots to release an injury report before he learns about the status of either young passer. And until then, he'll have to prepare for both.