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Benched in Seattle, Boulware looks to fresh start with Texans

HOUSTON -- Michael Boulware went from being a rookie sensation to a disappointment in three full seasons in Seattle.

After being relegated to a backup role with the Seahawks last season, the big safety gets another chance with this weekend's trade to the Texans. Houston sent former first-round pick Jason Babin to Seattle for Boulware.

"I do think it's a fresh start and a new beginning for me," Boulware said. "I'm really excited about the opportunity."

Boulware, a converted linebacker, was impressive as a rookie in 2004 when he played his way into the starting lineup and finished with five interceptions and 63 tackles. He helped the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005 by starting 16 games and grabbing four interceptions with 73 tackles.

Then came last season. Boulware started early in the year, but was routinely beaten on big plays and soon saw the field mostly as a backup and on special teams.

"I lost my focus a little bit," he said. "I got beat out. It wasn't what the Seahawks were looking for. It was a tough situation for me. But I'm glad I'm out of there and I'm down here in Houston."

Coach Gary Kubiak said he wasn't concerned about Boulware's struggles last season and that ups and downs are part of the game.

"When you're making switches for players, there's probably a reason why you're doing it, both teams," Kubiak said. "I know what he's been through, but I also know he's played some good football and I know he made our team better by being here. We have to have that type of presence and we needed some help at safety. It was a no-brainer."

The Texans needed depth at safety after losing starting strong safety Glenn Earl for the season in the first exhibition game. Career backup Jason Simmons will start in the opener, but Kubiak hopes Boulware can get acclimated and compete for the job quickly.

Boulware said his goal is to return to the starting lineup in Houston.

"He knows he's in a situation here where he can help us awful quick if he can catch up real quick," Kubiak said. "We'll see what happens. What he brings is what we're looking for. Now, how quick he's a part of our football team as far as really contributing on the defensive side of the ball, time will tell."

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Boulware is more than 5 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Simmons. His size is one of the things the Texans like best about him.

"My biggest asset right now is my ability to play the run," Boulware said. "I definitely am a bigger guy so I'm a bigger threat in the box. Also in the past, I've been known to get my hands on the ball as well, so from time to time, I can make a play, too."

After his first day of practice with the Texans on Monday, Boulware was winded while trying to adjust to the heat of Houston as well as the new defense. He's hoping to get caught up quickly and met with defensive backs coach Jon Hoke for about four hours Sunday before working with the coach individually for about 20 minutes after practice ended Monday.

He's hoping success in Houston can help erase the pain of his struggles last season with the Seahawks. But that doesn't mean he's out to prove anything to people who doubted him in Seattle.

"Not necessarily, I'm here. I'm a Houston Texan now," Boulware said. "I'm here to please the people around here, not the people in Seattle. I'm here. My focus is here. That's it."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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