Free Agent Q&A: Alfonso Boone

The Bears could use some help at defensive tackle with Tommie Harris coming off a torn hamstring and Tank Johnson still battling legal problems. but Alfonso Boone does not appear to be in the team's plans. Despite six years in Chicago, he will most likely not be back. Boone sat down with's Ed Thompson for a one-on-one interview, and this is what he had to say.

Ed Thompson:  Help the fans out a little bit because I'm sure that many of them aren't familiar with the way the Bears defense is set up and the fact that you play the under tackle position. Tell them what that role is and how that works.

Alfonso Boone:  The under tackle is basically a tackle that is supposed to be disruptive. You try to get up the field, try to blow up plays, try to get pressure on the quarterback, try to screw up the blocking schemes.

ET:  How do you think your skills translate if you get an opportunity with a team that has a different role for their defensive tackle?

AB:  I played under Greg Blache earlier in my career with a totally different defense. We were pretty much a gap-and-a-half, and I was playing behind Ted Washington and Keith Traylor. So you had to use your hands. You had to hold up against double-teams. Your job was to let the linebackers run free, and while I was playing that role was when the Bears re-worked my first contract. So I must have been doing a pretty decent job at that time.

ET:  I think another real valuable asset that you bring to the table is that you've been able to serve as a mentor to some of the younger defensive linemen in Chicago. Is that a role you enjoy? And what is it about you that you think they respect?

AB:  I don't even look at it as being a mentor. You want to win, so you want that guy next to you to know what he's doing, too. So I just try to help guys out, and I ask for help myself. I've learned from guys who can play the game, too. Learning from Ted Washington, Keith Traylor and Bryan Robinson really helped me learn how to use your hands and how to take down blocks. To recognize what's going on in different situations.

ET:  From where you see yourself right now, do you see yourself fitting into a 3-4 defense at the nose tackle or do you think you're best-suited from a skills perspective for the 4-3?

AB:  I could probably do both because I actually played some defensive end these past couple of years. I wouldn't mind playing a 3-4 defensive end or a 3-4 nose. It doesn't matter to me. I'd have to learn the little nuances of playing the position, but after that I would be fine. But still, in 3-4 you really have to use your hands and it seems like you would get more single blocking in the 3-4 as the nose, which would be pretty fun I think.

ET:  There are more teams now playing the Tampa-2 defense, and certainly it's going to help that both Super Bowl teams used it. Would that be your first preference is to stay in that style of defense? Do you feel you really excel in that scheme?

(Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel)
AB:  Yeah, I do just because it's so much easier on your body. There's more single blocks. You're getting up the field. You've still got to take on blocks here and there, but it's more based on quick movement and you're getting out of the way of a lot of things along the line that really helps your body recover quickly.

ET:  Ironically, I think one of the teams that could certainly take a look at you would be the Colts. They've got some question marks at the defensive tackle position as far as depth goes, and they like having strong players to rotate into their line throughout the game. How would it hit you if you ended up playing for Tony Dungy in Indianapolis?

AB:  You know, I haven't even thought about them. That's a new one on me. But if they are looking for more help there, I'm just going to hop in and do the best that I can. The Colts play a great style of Tampa-2. I think theirs is a little different from ours. It seems like they're a little more pass-oriented than we were as far as their linebackers go, but with them it seems like basically the same thing that we've been doing in Chicago. You just get up the field and have fun.

ET:  You talked about your old friend Ted Washington, who is in now in Cleveland. They certainly need to add some defensive tackle help. What would you think about going to Cleveland? You'd be looking at a team that's at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Bears at the moment - a team that's trying to rebuild under Romeo Crennel.

AB:  Well, I think that Cleveland is probably going to be on the rise because they've got some pretty good offensive players they've drafted the past couple of years. They drafted Kamerion Wimbley, and he looked pretty good. So I think Cleveland is going to be okay. I think they're a 3-4 defense. You've got to remember that here in Chicago we weren't very good when I first got here, so it's just a challenge that you've got to meet head on.

ET:  Kansas City is another team that could be in the market because they have both of their starting defensive tackles hitting free agency this year.

AB:  Yeah, I think one of their guys is a guy from my hometown, James Reed. He's a good friend of mine.

ET:  Well, wouldn't that be wild if the two of you ended up lining up shoulder-to-shoulder in the NFL?

AB:  That would be different. I don't know much about what Herman Edwards has done with the defense over there since he got there, but it would be something to get the chance to play on the same team with James.

ET:  Washington is certainly a possibility because Cornelius Griffin has had some hip problems. And then they've got a pretty decent rookie, Kedric Golston, but I think they could be looking to add some talent at defensive tackle.

AB:  I know a lot about Washington mainly because of Phillip Daniels. I played with him in Chicago, and Greg Blache is there now as the D-line coach. I'd be happy to go to any team that wants me to come in and help them win games.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews have been published across the network and syndicated through's NFL team pages.

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