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Jags give Bouman another shot

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Mike Tice remembers his first look at Todd Bouman, when Tice was an assistant coach for the Minnesota Vikings.

"When Denny Green signed him, he showed a clip in a staff meeting of this blond-haired basketball player taking off at the foul line and dunking a basketball. He was a great athlete," Tice said.

The year was 1997 and Bouman was a small-college legend at St. Cloud State in Minnesota. Twelve years later, the blond hair is gone but Bouman is still hangin' around.

"It's no different for me than it's been the last 12 years," Bouman said of being signed by the Jaguars to add competition and insurance at the backup quarterback position. "It's been an interesting road. I got lucky my first six years; I got to stay home and play in Minnesota. Since then, I've never felt comfortable. You go in, work hard and see what happens."

Bouman is the quintessential journeyman quarterback. He's played for five NFL teams and is in his third stint with the Jaguars. He also played for the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe.

Last year, he played well for the Jaguars in the preseason, but was cut when coach Jack Del Rio decided to keep just two quarterbacks. The team, of course, had signed Cleo Lemon to a pricey contract in free agency to be David Garrard's primary backup.

Bouman spent the season with Baltimore, which came within a win of the Super Bowl. He played in no games, however, which extended his streak of seasons without having played in a game to three.

"I know I can play. It's just a matter of when that time comes," he said.

The last time Bouman threw a pass in an NFL regular-season game was for the Saints in 2005, the Katrina year. The Saints named Sean Payton head coach in the offseason and that was the end of Bouman's days in New Orleans.

Baltimore released Bouman recently, after having signed John Beck off waivers from the Dolphins.

"They called me a few hours after I got released in Baltimore," Bouman said of the Jaguars. "I was excited to come back."

The soon-to-be 37-year-old former national high school slam-dunk champion continues to pursue the dream, though the dream no longer includes illusions of being a starting quarterback. He dreams now of winning the backup job and winning a big game and being a hero one more time.

"It's been a dream of mine since I was little," he said of NFL stardom.

One day the end will come. Bouman already has his plans made. He'll go back to Buffalo, Minn., and resume his high school football coaching career. That's what he was doing when the Jaguars called a few years ago. He wants to be a head coach some day, as his father was.

"I just love the game. I love playing it and I love being around it. When the time comes that the phone doesn't ring, I'll go back to coaching high school football, like I was doing a few years ago," Bouman said.

Does he have one more year left in him?

"When these quarterbacks get older, the game slows down for them and they see things better. Mentally, I think he's in a good state right now," Tice said of Bouman.

He's in a position to compete for a roster spot. It's something he does very well.

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