Poor play blamed for Bolden's release
By Morris News Service
SUWANEE, GA. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Reeves sent a message to his team Wednesday, waiving reserve defensive back Juran Bolden in the wake of his poor performance in last Sunday's 31-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The move was surprising because of Bolden's age (24), value on special teams and upside potential. Bolden not only was one of the fastest players on the team, but he also has good size (6-foot-2 1/2 , 202 pounds), which is rarely found in corners who can run.
To replace Bolden, the Falcons signed free-agent cornerback Darren Anderson, a six-year veteran who played in 66 games with six starts for Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
"If you've given somebody adequate chances to to improve and he doesn't, you don't have much of a choice," Reeves said. "Juran is an outstanding physical talent. He just wasn't able to put it together assignment-wise in some crucial situations."
Bolden was drafted in the fourth round in 1996 after he spent two years at Mississippi Delta Community College and one year with the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
He was beaten several times by 49ers receivers, including twice for touchdowns by Jerry Rice despite being in position to knock the ball down both times. Reeves criticized him afterward for not rerouting receivers or making plays.
Bolden was well liked off the field, but his teammates didn't seem particularly upset about the decision.
"You could be the greatest athlete on the team, but if you seem to somehow be making the same mistakes over and over, it gets to a point where somebody has to make a decision," linebacker Jessie Tuggle said. "As great of an athlete as Juran is, we've got to get somebody on the team who's more dependable."