FOXBORO - Most of the Patriots' veteran players won't have to worry much about what happens Thursday night in the New Jersey Meadowlands. But some will.
Brandon Bolden, for instance, could find his roster spot still at risk even if he survives today's mandatory reduction to 75 players.
"I'm kind of just at the point where I'm doing whatever they need me to do," the third-year running back said Monday. "If it's to help the young guys or get out there and try to show a look on the (scout) team, whatever they need me to do."
Bolden was held out of last Friday's 30-7 preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers due to an undisclosed injury. There's a crowd at the running back position with veterans Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen leading the depth chart and rookies James White and Roy Finch and first-year veteran Jonas Gray making their bids to stick on the final roster, and the preseason finale at MetLife Stadium against the Giants (7:30 p.m.; Ch. 4, 12) will be the last audition for all of them.
Bolden's problem has been staying on the field, but he's got to overcome that to fend off the competition. It helps that he's a valued special-teams performer.
"Any time you can be on the field and provide some relief for the starters or anything like that is good," he said. "You just have to get in there and do what you have to do and do your assignment as best as possible."
He knows that there's not a lot separating all of the backs currently on the roster.
"I wouldn't say I see a big difference from everybody else," he said. "Everybody is good, that's why we're all here. It's not even so much as what skill set one guy has or one guy doesn't have. Everybody can adapt their skill set.
"So if Shane is a great route runner, I'm going to go sit next to Shane and get all the route-running help I can get," he continued. "If I need help on first and second down, I know I can go to Stevan and ask him what he sees on the run reads. Usually once you see what one guy sees, another guy will see it later in the game."
As of Monday, Bolden didn't know much more about what the future will hold.
"We'll see," he said. "We haven't fully gone over the game plan so we'll see how it turns out."
Safety Devin McCourty was named this year's recipient of the Ron Burton Community Service Award at an on-field kickoff gala Monday evening at Gillette Stadium. Team owner Robert Kraft presented McCourty with the award, which is named in honor of the late Ron Burton, the first player drafted by the team and a community leader whose widespread charitable work was a model for how a Patriots' player can make an impact off the field. Past winners were Joe Andruzzi (2003), Troy Brown (2004), Matt Light (2005), Jarvis Green (2006), Ty Warren (2007), Larry Izzo (2008), Kevin Faulk (2009), Vince Wilfork (2010), Jerod Mayo (2011), Zoltan Mesko (2012) and Matthew Slater (2013).
The team confirmed the releases of veteran defensive linemen Tommy Kelly and Will Smith and linebacker James Anderson on Monday, and also announced the release of rookie tight end Justin Jones for the second time this preseason Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga had the cast on his hand and wrist removed and he returned to practice Monday.