When Carolina plays the Houston Texans on Aug. 9 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., it should make for an interesting game.
Usually, NFL preseason games are not very interesting, except for the young men trying to make an NFL roster. And of course that will be the case for former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware, who was signed as a free agent by the Carolina Panthers after not being drafted this past April.
Boulware will be trying to make the Panthers’ 53-man roster, which means the fiery linebacker will be more emotional than ever on the football field. That may not bode well for opposing quarterbacks and that is what makes the Aug. 9 preseason opener so intriguing.
At some point in the game, the Texans will trot out their shiny first-round draft pick – Boulware’s former Clemson teammate and quarterback Deshaun Watson.
While playing at Clemson the last three years, Watson has been hands off to the Tigers’ defensive players. Meaning, Boulware could get his first opportunity to hit the two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist when they game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, Boulware told the Panthers’ media if he gets the opportunity to hit Watson, he is “going all in” with it.
“You could not even breathe on him when he was at Clemson,” Boulware said smiling. “There are no rules and there are no boundaries now, so hopefully I will get to go in while he is in there and I will get a good shot on him.”
Hearing Boulware say he is “all in” to hitting Watson will be no surprise to the former Clemson All-American quarterback. He said he knows how anxious his old teammate will be to try and sack him or put him on the ground.
“He will be, but it is all good,” Watson said with a laugh this past weekend to The Clemson Insider and to a few other members of the media in Greenville. “I will just slide the protection to him.”
So far, there has been no texting or trashing talking from the two Clemson stars other than what they have said to the media. However, Watson feels that will change once the game gets closer.
“It has been all good,” Watson said. “We probably will not talk any trash until we actually step on the field. It is going to be all love off the field and we wish each other the best.”
Watson smiled when he was asked if he sidestepped Boulware a lot in practice the last three years when the linebacker came with pressure.
“A little bit or something like that,” he said smiling. “He will tell you wrong, but I think I have.”
He might have to sidestep Boulware again on Aug. 9. If not, Boulware is going to bring three years of not being able to hit Watson in one tackle or sack.
However, after that “I’ll give him a big hug and kiss,” said Boulware.
–Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
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