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O'HARA: Bolden making a positive impression in minicamp

Victor Bolden has a new opportunity with a team where he has already spent a good portion of his career trying to make the roster.

That's just one of the twists in what has been the winding path that Bolden has taken to make it in the NFL.

The Detroit Lions are overhauling the wide receiver position, and Bolden has some qualities to offer in his bid to win a roster spot.

Speed is one of Bolden's primary assets, along with his energy and relentless determination to overcome obstacles that have been in his path since he first made the San Francisco 49ers' roster as a return specialist in 2017.

Since then his will has been tested but never broken by the ups and downs that so many players go through to stick with a team.

Bolden was released by the 49ers during the 2018 season and signed by the Bills near the end of that season. He was released by the Bills in August of 2019, then signed by the Lions to their practice squad in December of 2019.

Bolden was on the Lions' practice squad all of 2020.

It's a tough journey for Bolden, but it's one he accepts as part of the business of football.

"It's tough on everybody in this league," Bolden said Wednesday after the second of the Lions' three minicamp practices. "With the path I've been on, I really had to rely on mental stamina. There's been a lot of ups and downs.

"The things that helped me achieve success is trying to be even keel and not let the ups or the downs change my enthusiasm every day.

"Just try to continue to be the same person every day – whether the chips are going down or going up."

Bolden has made a positive impression on head coach Dan Campbell and his staff in the offseason program, including this week's minicamp.

At 5-8 and 178 pounds, Bolden is one of the smallest receivers on the roster. But he's also one of the quickest.

"This guy can separate," Campbell said this week. "He can run. He can change direction."

Bolden appreciates that there is open competition for some jobs on the wide receiver depth chart, and that he's part of the competition.

"The excitement is there as far as competition goes," Bolden said. "At this level, you welcome competition. For it to be an open opportunity for everybody, it excites everybody."

A chip in Bolden's favor could be his experience as a return man. The Lions have to replace Jamal Agnew, who signed with the Jaguars in the offseason as a free agent.

View photos from second day of Lions minicamp on Wednesday, June 9th.

Bolden played 15 games for the 49ers and Bills combined in his first two seasons. Most of his work was on kickoff returns, where he averaged 21.3 yards on 24 returns in two seasons.

"What I bring to the table is a little bit of everything," Bolden said. "Like today (Wednesday's practice). l can go outside and stretch the field. Put me inside and I can run good routes on linebackers and cause some mismatches.

"I try to be available for my team. Whatever they need me at is what I do. I like to come out there every day and be the same person every day.

"That way, like in a game, it's not going to be any different. I like to come out and be that energy guy."

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