Giants' Boley faces former team when Falcons visit
When Michael Boley left the Atlanta Falcons last year in free agency, he didn't exactly depart on good terms. Now, as the New York Giants prepare to face Boley's old team Sunday at Giants Stadium, the linebacker doesn't want to get too excited. "If I do that, then I might try to do too much," Boley said Wednesday after practice. "Especially with the way things went down, I don't want to get too pumped up. But I was definitely looking forward to this game." Boley said Wednesday he thought he was going to be a Falcon for life. "During my first couple of years, I really felt like I was going to be there for a while," said Boley, drafted out of Southern Mississippi by the Falcons in the fifth round in 2005. He spent four years in Atlanta. "But after what happened last year, I knew I was gone." After a solid season in 2007 with 109 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions, Boley's numbers dipped in 2008 to 73 tackles. Boley was then removed from the starting lineup by Falcons coach Mike Smith. "The reason they said was that I wasn't being productive," Boley said. "A lot of things happened over the course of the year. I lost my starting job midway through the season. There were some telltale signs that told me I wouldn't be back. I don't want to talk about those things, but I knew I wasn't going to be there." Boley said that there was some discussion about a contract extension with the Falcons, but those talks "died down in a hurry." "Things worked out for the best," Boley said. Smith got a little defensive Wednesday when asked about Boley during a conference call. "I thought Michael Boley played very well for us last year," Smith said. "When you're building a roster, decisions have to be made and they are made from both sides. He was a free agent and he chose to test the market. Michael is a very athletic linebacker that was very productive in his time in Atlanta. I don't see any reason why he won't be productive in New York. On film, he looks like the athletic Michael Boley that we had here." But when pressed about why the Falcons didn't re-sign Boley, Smith retorted: "I'm not going to get into that, in terms of negotiations and on a specific player. Michael had an opportunity to test free agency and he tested free agency." In February, Boley signed a five-year contract with the Giants worth about $25 million. Then Boley ran into some obstacles before he could take the field with his new club. He was suspended for one game by the NFL for violation of the league's personal conduct policy for an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife. Boley also had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in June, then after he served the suspension and got back on the field for three games, he injured his right knee, which required surgery and cost him a month. "The season has had its ups and downs," said Boley, who returned to the field in a loss to San Diego before the Giants had their bye week. "It's been hard for me to get to 100 percent healthy. When I played (against San Diego), I felt like I wasn't in tune with everyone else. I felt like everyone was faster than me. "But I'm back now. It's been tough trying to get back." Boley has 21 tackles in four games with the Giants. "I definitely feel like I have a lot more to show," Boley said. "I played three games, got hurt, then came back after missing a month. I'm just looking forward to getting into a groove." It might be against his former teammates. "I still chitchat with some of the guys," Boley said. "I've talked to the coaches about the way they play and how certain guys do certain things. I'm sure my friends on the team are saying the same things about me."