Cowart happy to be back at home in middle

This has been a whirlwind off-season for linebacker Sam Cowart. First he got his wish to move back to middle linebacker. Then the Jets drafted Jonathan Vilma as his eventual replacement. Here is a conversation with Cowart about his current situation:<p>

Q)What are your thoughts about moving to middle linebacker?

Cowart: I've always been a middle linebacker. That's what I played in Buffalo, that's what I played in college. I came here, the scheme we were running was 4-3. I thought I was able to play the same way I played at Buffalo, but to me I think the level that I expect to play at, I wasn't playing at that level. After two years I still haven't reached that level. It made better sense for me to play middle because that's where I've played my best football.

Q)How did your move to the middle come about?

Cowart: I asked was there a possibility? I didn't know what the situation was going to be this year. I just went in and said is there is a possibility that I could play the inside? I feel more comfortable there. I feel I could better help the football team as a middle linebacker.

Q)How would you describe your first two years with the team?

Cowart: Very frustrating because I wasn't playing at the level I know I can play at. I was doing the best I could, but we weren't going in a positive direction with the defense. If I wanted to help make this defense better, the best thing for me is to go in the middle.

Q)You sounds like you were very frustrated going to the outside?

Cowart: That's like my name being Sam for 28 years and change it to Rob in Year 29. That's what I always played. That's what I know. I played outside for 2 years and I struggled here and there and the defense struggled. I just haven't reached that level. Hopefully back in the middle, if I stay healthy I can help the team as a middle linebacker.

Q)What do you think of the team drafting Jonathan Vilma?

Cowart: He's a great addition to the team because when you're running predominantly 3-4, you're going to need some good inside linebackers. You need at least three good inside linebackers when you're taking on guards, taking on centers every snap.

Q)Was it a slap in the face to you that they moved you to the middle and then picked Vilma?

Cowart: When I was 22, and coming in and [Buffalo] had Chris Speilman. You have to look ahead. I'm 29 and Vilma's a young guy. He had a great career at the University of Miami and he's the future.

Q)How do you feel about having to compete for a starting job?

Cowart: You always have to compete whether you're a first rounder, second, third, fourth rounder. You always have to compete.

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