Boulware set to return to Ravens

Team's all-time sacks leader to sign one-year contract if he passes physical

August 18, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Peter Boulware's unexpected return to the Ravens will become official today if he passes a physical, the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker said yesterday.

The franchise's all-time sacks leader is scheduled to sign a one-year contract and suit up for today's afternoon practice once he is cleared to play.

Boulware, 30, would fill the Ravens' major need for a pass rusher only three months after he was released for salary cap reasons.

"I didn't think coming back was ever a possibility," Boulware said in a telephone interview. "I never even thought about it. Once I left here, I thought my time here was over and I had to go somewhere else. For this opportunity to come back, it's truly a blessing."

Boulware, one of the most popular Ravens after being drafted in the first round eight years ago, was cut by the team in early May, when talks broke off on a restructured contract. The Ravens didn't want to pay him his $6 million salary this season, and Boulware rejected a substantial pay cut (reportedly $2 million in salary and another $2 million in incentives).

But Boulware rushed back into the Ravens' picture when his replacement, rookie Dan Cody, severely sprained his knee Aug. 1, during the first practice of training camp. Although Cody will be re-evaluated, the second-round pick most likely will miss the entire season.

The Ravens contacted Boulware by the second day of camp and brought him up for a workout yesterday.

If Boulware passes his physical -- it's scheduled for 10 a.m. -- he would team with Terrell Suggs to form one of the most dangerous pass-rush tandems in the league. In 2003, the only year with Boulware on one end and Suggs on the other, the Ravens rang up an NFL-best 47 sacks.

"Rushing is what I do best," said Boulware, who has registered 67 1/2 sacks in 111 career games. "If you need me to play linebacker, I can do that. But where I really feel like I can help the Baltimore Ravens is getting to the quarterback. I just so happen to love doing it."

According to a team source, the coaching staff was extremely impressed by Boulware's 45-minute workout. He looked quick and lean, having shaved about 10 pounds off last year's weight of 258 pounds.

It is believed Boulware's one-year deal could be worth about $1 million, with another $1 million in incentives.

Ravens officials would only confirm that Boulware was in town for a workout.

"We are in part of the evaluation process," coach Brian Billick said. "We are going to see how he looks. His countenance and everything about him looked good and fresh. We will see how we move forward with it."

Boulware's health is the biggest reason he has remained on the free-agent market.

In an attempt to prove he was physically fit to play, he worked out around his home in Tallahassee, Fla., last month for four teams interested in him. But the consensus was he needed more time to recover from knee and toe injuries that sidelined him for the entire 2004 season.

"There's no chip on my shoulder at all," Boulware said. "I've been around this process long enough that it's part of the game: You play, you get hurt, you get released. So you have to prove yourself."

Missing most of camp shouldn't be a problem for Boulware. In fact, it has become a tradition of sorts.

In eight NFL seasons, he has sat out five training camps -- because of a holdout in 1997 and injuries in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003. And before his recent run of injuries, he never was sidelined in his first 111 games.

Boulware estimated it would take a "few weeks" before getting back into football shape, which should keep him on target to be ready for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

"I'm sure there's going to be some rust early," Boulware said. "But it's not anything that can't be knocked off. It's going to take a few weeks to get into the groove. Once it's done, I think I can play pretty effectively."

Boulware said it has been difficult to contain the excitement of putting on his old uniform -- No. 58 wasn't given to anyone else after he left -- and seeing his old teammates.

But there admittedly have been some changes since he played his last game, which came Dec. 21, 2003.

"It's funny but I've always taken football for granted," Boulware said. "I never missed any time before. The next time I get on the field, I will say, `Thank you, God, for giving me this opportunity.' Every game and every snap, I'll enjoy it from now on."

Next for Ravens

Preseason matchup: Philadelphia Eagles (0-1) at Ravens (0-1)

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45, Comcast SportsNet/1300 AM, 102.7 FM

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