Boulware thrilled to be back with Ravens

Inside the Baltimore Ravens' locker room, it's as if linebacker Peter Boulware never left the building or roster. His name plate above his locker stall and No. 58 jersey are still there. Everything was left intact just in case of an unlikely reunion with the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker.

One day after signing a one-year, $1 million contract with $1 million in incentives after the team released him as a $6 million salary-cap casualty three months ago, Boulware is thrilled to be back with the team that drafted him in the first round in 1997.

"I always wanted to be here, but I didn't think it was possible," said Boulware, who missed all of last season with knee and toe injuries. "I thought once I left, I would have to find another place.

"Keeping my locker and things like that is special to me. It just lets me know how much this organization means to me and I am just privileged to be here."

Boulware wondered whether his career was over when the Ravens released him and there wasn't heavy interest from other teams. Considering he's 30 and hadn't played in a game since Dec. 21, 2003, Boulware had legitimate reason for concern.

"I kind of thought that in the back of my mind," Boulware said. "My heart is always in Baltimore. I would have gone somewhere else just to play the game, but my heart was here."

Before he was released, Boulware rejected the Ravens' offer to reduce his $6 million salary to $2 million with $2 million in incentives. The Ravens' all-time leading pass rusher with 67 ½ sacks said he has no regrets about his decision.

"At the end of the day it wasn't about money," Boulware said. "I just want to be a Raven. So the money was irrelevant."

Boulware reported at a lean 248 pounds, but anticipates that it will take him a few weeks to get back into football shape. There's a possibility he could make his preseason debut Sept. 1 against the Washington Redskins.

In a telling sign of how certain Boulware was that he wouldn't be back with the Ravens, he sold his house three weeks ago and is on the hunt for real estate.

"We hated to lose Peter," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I give Peter a great deal of credit for coming back here."

Boulware is slated for a situational pass rushing role and will also back up Adalius Thomas at strongside linebacker. Signing Boulware became an increased priority when rookie Dan Cody injured his knee and could be out for the entire season.

Boulware said he's unsure how much longer he'll play football, saying he'll take it year to year, but he seems to have accepted a reduced role.

"My attitude is so different from what it was in the past," Boulware said. "In the past, I wanted to be a starter and I wanted to be in every play. You can play the game so long that you take it for granted that it's always going to be there.

"Now, my attitude is I have had two injuries and I sat out all lat year and it's just a privilege to be on the team."

SAMS TO START: Return specialist B.J. Sams will start tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles one week after he was held out with a hamstring strain.

Sams, who was arrested earlier this week and charged with driving under the influence, negligent driving and speeding, declined to discuss his legal problems.

"Everyone has their own personal situation to deal with, and it's not going to affect how I play football," Sams said. "I'm not going to say, ‘I made a mistake.' I'm just going to play football and go about my business."

Sams set a single-season franchise record with 1,826 combined return yards last year. Now, he's under pressure to maintain his status as Patrick Johnson and Mark Clayton are pushing him.

"I don't look at it like that," said Sams, who was clocked at 89 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 83 North. "I'm just going to do my job. I feel confident about everything and I feel good."

QUOTABLE: Defensive end Terrell Suggs protested being voted "King Ugly" in the team's annual contest.

"The voting was rigged," Suggs said. "Ray Lewis and Deion Sanders fixed the election. I'm way too good looking to have that title."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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