But that same intensity that has helped drive his career to becoming a desired free-agent signee can sometimes be a hindrance. Passion can create a fine line.
“There’s times where being such a loose cannon at times got me in trouble, maybe I got Sam (Bradford) hit too much,” Boone said last week in reflecting on the season. “You look back and think maybe if I got the one block, maybe it springs. The one block I regret this year is in Washington. We ran a reverse to (Adam) Thielen. I blocked the linebacker, but I saw the corner traveling with him. I think just maybe if I would’ve dove and got in his way, Thielen would’ve scored for sure. Things like that. It’s a cruel, cruel business. It’ll just sit there forever and haunt you for a while.”
The Vikings ended up losing that Washington game, 26-20, after mounting a comeback. It was one of the games that stuck out among players as they thought about which loss hurt the most in a season where one more win might have put them in the playoffs.
“Howie Long told me a long time ago, it’s a brief existence, but it’s a tortured existence. What if I would’ve done this?” Boone said. “There’s times where maybe if I would’ve just changed this. The tiniest things will drive you nuts.”
At least that means he cares, and Boone runs about as intense any player on the roster. He can be tough on himself but said before the season he hates to see his teammates criticized. Turns out, his mates on the offensive line were often criticized.
Injuries contributed to much of that. The Vikings started eight different combinations on the line. Short-term injuries are part of the game, but the Vikings were forced to shuffle throughout the season after losing three different starting offensive tackles.
“That’s one of the things we struggled with all year. A lot of guys became men real quick, didn’t have a choice. Proud of the way those guys stepped up,” Boone said. “A lot of guys stepped up this year, filled roles they weren’t expecting to have to do. Lot of guys got moved out of position. One thing is those guys played hard all the time. Never question their effort. They gave you what they had and for that I’ll always be thankful. A lot of guys made names for themselves. I’m proud of that group.”
Players at the lowest reaches of the depth chart were called upon, creating weekly mismatches that favored the opponent as linemen were asked to contribute more than initially anticipated.
“I think a lot of guys did. I think a lot of guys had to mature a lot faster than they would’ve expected,” Boone said. “It was fun to play with a lot of combinations, but at the same time after a while it wore on guys. That’s not an excuse. If you’re out there, you’re expected to play 100 percent and get the job done. Proud of the effort everyone gave. Nobody slacked out there; they gave everything they had. That’s something to be proud of.”
Boone finished as the second-ranked offensive lineman on the roster after center Joe Berger, according to Pro Football Focus’s grading system. It was Boone’s first year with the Vikings and he felt he did his job in most instances.
“I thought I did well. There’s things I could’ve done better, things I wish I could take back,” he said. “I think everybody wants something back. You don’t ever want to regret something and it’s at that point where you regret a few things. Learn from it, get better and come back ready to roll.”