Boulware Talks Roster Cuts, Transitions

Safety Michael Boulware is entering his fifth season in the NFL, but as NFL roster cuts loom on Saturday he knows no backup is safe. See what Boulware had to say about his situation and the transitions he had to make to stay in the league.

Michael Boulware has a familiar last name in league circles and four years of experience, but even that doesn't guarantee anything in the NFL.

Boulware hasn't been making a quick ascension up the depth chart in the safety ranks for the Vikings, and with more mandated roster cuts coming by Saturday, it's never a safe feeling.

"I'm working as hard as I can and I want to try to move up, but I haven't been able to do that so I just have to continue to work hard. I can't get discouraged and I can't go in the tank, so I've just got to continue to fight," Boulware said.

Boulware came to the NFL with his brother, Peter, already making a name for himself in the NFL. Peter was a standout linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens from 1997-2005 and recorded 70 sacks and 206 tackles along the way.

Michael entered the NFL in 2004 and, like his brother, is trying to make the transition from one defensive position in college to another in the pros. Peter went from a defensive end at Florida State to a linebacker in the NFL. Michael started as a linebacker with the Seminoles and has been moved to safety since entering the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks in 2004.

"I think I'm definitely still learning. I don't think in this game that you ever get there. I think you have to continue to learn and get better," Michael said. "I think that the transition part of the game is out of me, as far as linebacker to safety, but I still definitely have a lot of things to learn at the position. I don't think while I'm playing I'll ever get there because if you ever get there you'll start going backwards."

Michael had a quick beginning to his NFL career, making four starts as a rookie and being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for a performance against Miami that included an interception return for a touchdown. His first NFL start came against the Vikings, when he registered his first career sack against Daunte Culpepper and intercepted a Randy Moss pass in the end zone on a reverse pass with 2:09 to play to preserve a 27-23 Seahawks win.

"When I first got here, they talked to me about it. A lot of the people here said they hated me for it, so it's kind of ironic that now I'm here," Boulware said.

In 2005, he started all 16 games for the Seahawks, registering 58 tackles, but his playing time gradually decreased over the next two seasons, starting eight games in 2006 and none last year.

The Vikings signed Boulware as a free agent on March 20 – 20 days after signing Madieu Williams to play alongside Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper and more than a month before the Vikings drafted Tyrell Johnson, another safety, in the second round. But Boulware said he chose Minnesota in free agency because of the opportunity to work with Sharper.

"The secondary here and the defense here is tremendous. I hit some rocky times in Seattle and I'm transitioning from linebacker to safety and I believe that getting under Darren and this coaching staff is going to enable me to learn what I need to learn and make that complete transition," he said, calling Sharper "one of the greatest of all time."

"Even before I got here, he helped me out when I was in Seattle and we were able to talk a couple a times. Since I've got here, I've been able to ask him how he sees stuff and reads stuff. It's been a big help. No matter what happens here, I've already become a better safety just by watching him and how he plays and how he approaches the game."

Boulware said he appreciates the simpler approach to defense that the Vikings take with their Cover-2 concepts.

"The big difference is that they keep it simple. They don't complicate it, and allow your athletic ability to really play. Just give you a chance to play and not really have to think," he said.

That's essentially what the coaches were telling him in training camp – just react and play.

"Don't overanalyze and don't over-think the game. Coming from Seattle, there was a lot of thinking involved and a lot of communication. Out here, that is not the case. Not to say it's laid back, but the defense is a little (simpler). I've just got to relax and play my game.

"It's very refreshing, especially when you come from a defense that is so demanding. When you get freed up a little bit, for me my guard is still up: Can it be this easy – can my responsibilities be this easy? That's the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing."

But just how much Boulware will play in Minnesota is yet to be determined – if he even makes the Vikings' 53-man roster. With Williams out with a neck injury for what is expected be at least a few more weeks, Boulware still finds himself behind Sharper, Johnson and Eric Frampton, leaving him in a precarious numbers game.

He said he's working in all four phases of special teams and hoping to work his way into a starting position on those, but Boulware's situation is proof positive that even veteran jobs in the NFL aren't safe, and even fifth-year veterans with a familiar last name can't feel comfortable when it comes time to trim a roster by 22 players.



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\r\n","mobileBody":"Michael Boulware has a familiar last name in league circles and four years of experience, but even that doesn't guarantee anything in the NFL.

Boulware hasn't been making a quick ascension up the depth chart in the safety ranks for the Vikings, and with more mandated roster cuts coming by Saturday, it's never a safe feeling.

\"I'm working as hard as I can and I want to try to move up, but I haven't been able to do that so I just have to continue to work hard. I can't get discouraged and I can't go in the tank, so I've just got to continue to fight,\" Boulware said.

Boulware came to the NFL with his brother, Peter, already making a name for himself in the NFL. Peter was a standout linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens from 1997-2005 and recorded 70 sacks and 206 tackles along the way.

Michael entered the NFL in 2004 and, like his brother, is trying to make the transition from one defensive position in college to another in the pros. Peter went from a defensive end at Florida State to a linebacker in the NFL. Michael started as a linebacker with the Seminoles and has been moved to safety since entering the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks in 2004.

\"I think I'm definitely still learning. I don't think in this game that you ever get there. I think you have to continue to learn and get better,\" Michael said. \"I think that the transition part of the game is out of me, as far as linebacker to safety, but I still definitely have a lot of things to learn at the position. I don't think while I'm playing I'll ever get there because if you ever get there you'll start going backwards.\"

Michael had a quick beginning to his NFL career, making four starts as a rookie and being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for a performance against Miami that included an interception return for a touchdown. His first NFL start came against the Vikings, when he registered his first career sack against Daunte Culpepper and intercepted a Randy Moss pass in the end zone on a reverse pass with 2:09 to play to preserve a 27-23 Seahawks win.

\"When I first got here, they talked to me about it. A lot of the people here said they hated me for it, so it's kind of ironic that now I'm here,\" Boulware said.

In 2005, he started all 16 games for the Seahawks, registering 58 tackles, but his playing time gradually decreased over the next two seasons, starting eight games in 2006 and none last year.

The Vikings signed Boulware as a free agent on March 20 – 20 days after signing Madieu Williams to play alongside Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper and more than a month before the Vikings drafted Tyrell Johnson, another safety, in the second round. But Boulware said he chose Minnesota in free agency because of the opportunity to work with Sharper.

\"The secondary here and the defense here is tremendous. I hit some rocky times in Seattle and I'm transitioning from linebacker to safety and I believe that getting under Darren and this coaching staff is going to enable me to learn what I need to learn and make that complete transition,\" he said, calling Sharper \"one of the greatest of all time.\"

\"Even before I got here, he helped me out when I was in Seattle and we were able to talk a couple a times. Since I've got here, I've been able to ask him how he sees stuff and reads stuff. It's been a big help. No matter what happens here, I've already become a better safety just by watching him and how he plays and how he approaches the game.\"

Boulware said he appreciates the simpler approach to defense that the Vikings take with their Cover-2 concepts.

\"The big difference is that they keep it simple. They don't complicate it, and allow your athletic ability to really play. Just give you a chance to play and not really have to think,\" he said.

That's essentially what the coaches were telling him in training camp – just react and play.

\"Don't overanalyze and don't over-think the game. Coming from Seattle, there was a lot of thinking involved and a lot of communication. Out here, that is not the case. Not to say it's laid back, but the defense is a little (simpler). I've just got to relax and play my game.

\"It's very refreshing, especially when you come from a defense that is so demanding. When you get freed up a little bit, for me my guard is still up: Can it be this easy – can my responsibilities be this easy? That's the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing.\"

But just how much Boulware will play in Minnesota is yet to be determined – if he even makes the Vikings' 53-man roster. With Williams out with a neck injury for what is expected be at least a few more weeks, Boulware still finds himself behind Sharper, Johnson and Eric Frampton, leaving him in a precarious numbers game.

He said he's working in all four phases of special teams and hoping to work his way into a starting position on those, but Boulware's situation is proof positive that even veteran jobs in the NFL aren't safe, and even fifth-year veterans with a familiar last name can't feel comfortable when it comes time to trim a roster by 22 players.


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