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How Brandon Bolden and Rock Ya-Sin are integral for the Las Vegas Raiders

Breven Honda

Yesterday marked the first official day of the 2022 NFL season, highlighted by free agency.

As other teams in the AFC West have been making their moves, the Las Vegas Raiders made a couple of splashes of their own, both on offense and defense yesterday.

First, the Raiders signed running back Brandon Bolden, who was with head coach Josh McDaniels in New England. Las Vegas also traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to Indianapolis for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.

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Bolden provides depth for Las Vegas Raiders offense

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Bolden, who played in every game a season ago for the Patriots, recorded 44 rushes for 226 yards and a touchdown while being in a backfield that also had running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson ahead of him in the depth chart.

In addition, Bolden recorded 41 receptions on 49 targets for a new career-high 405 yards and two touchdowns last year in the passing game.

Entering this offseason as a free agent, Bolden said he got a call from McDaniels and it was a no-brainer to decide to return with his former coach from Foxboro.

“I was sitting at home weighing out the options and when I talked to Josh, it was one of those situations where what would be the best situation for me and my family going forward,” Bolden told the media Thursday. “And this was a very easy choice, schematically and on a personal level as well. There are familiar faces. There’s a lot of coaches on this staff that I’ve had the pleasure being coached by.”

Brandon Bolden on joining Las Vegas Raiders

On offense alone, there are four coaches who were previously with the Patriots, led by Raiders new offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi.

The 32-year-old Bolden, who has won two Super Bowls with New England, said he wants to be the teammate for everyone as he enters his 10th NFL season.

“I’m expecting the same role that I had in New England and that’s to help everyone as best as I can,” Bolden said. “Whether that is on special teams or offense, I’m not looking for a specific role. I’m looking to play football and win some games at the same time. So, I don’t really have any say of what I play or how much I play. I love the game of football and I want to get out there and play ball.”

Las Vegas Raiders RB Brandon Bolden on his mentality

In this Raiders offense, Bolden will be part of a running back room that also features Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders roster review – Running backs

Bolden will most likely fill in the role Jalen Richard had as the team’s third-down back.

Now being able to reunite with McDaniels, Bolden said he can’t wait to interact with his new teammates and help teach the offensive scheme.  

“I know first-hand that this is not the easiest offense to learn, but once you get it, you can’t forget it” Bolden said. “It’s like riding a bike. So, I just talked to Josh and I’m here to help as much as I can. Try to simplify it and explain it.

“I’m interested to see how it’s going to go. I’m very excited to come in and help and do whatever I can to make sure we all on the same page and go out there and see what we can do as a team.”

Rock Ya-Sin adds competition to cornerback room

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In 2021, Rock Ya-Sin was part of an Indianapolis team that saw seven players participate in the Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium led by Darius Leonard. Although Ya-Sin was not part of the group going to the Pro Bowl, it showed how good the defense he was a part of.

Despite not making the playoffs, Ya-Sin said coming to Las Vegas gives him the new chance to give 100% effort in a new organization.

“(It’s) a fresh start, a chance to show my ability, a chance to compete, a chance to play with really good players and play for really good coaches, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Ya-Sin said Thursday.

Rock Ya-Sin on joining Las Vegas Raiders

Ya-Sin, who will enter his fourth NFL season in 2022, enters a young cornerback room that features Nate Hobbs, Trayvon Mullen Jr., and Amik Robertson.

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Related: Las Vegas Raiders roster review: Cornerbacks

In addition, Ya-Sin will also come into a new, but experienced defensive staff, led by defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and defensive backs coach Jason Simmons.

“What I know about coach Graham is that he’s a great coach, coach Simmons is a great coach,” “The whole defensive staff, offensive staff too, is a lot of really great coaches. Really big names. Guys who are well respected around the league. So, I’m looking forward to learning from these guys. Whatever scheme we’re playing, whatever defense we’re playing, I’m looking forward to learning from these guys and continue to get better.”

Add in the news on Thursday of Las Vegas signing linebacker Chandler Jones and the defense gets older with a snap.

“My first emotion wasn’t really shocking. It was more excitement,” Ya-Sin said of the team’s defensive pieces. “I know the kind of culture that’s here. I know the kind of players that are here I am looking forward to coming here and winning a lot of games.”

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