Tim Bulman is the kind of player that the Texans want and need on their team. All go, no quit. This guy has one gear - flat out balls-to-the-wall. In person, the intensity just radiates off him. He has a guileless smile that betrays his love for the game. If you knew him at any other point in his career, you might not recognize him now. He's a lean 276 lbs and in the best shape of his life.
He's fascinating to talk to. The road that brought him to Reliant is an interesting one, filled with the best kind of football, but to only read the details of his life misses what makes him a great player. The three facets that best define his game are aggression, control and playmaking ability. His coaches and the media compliment him on his high motor, but it's much more than that. He has the aggressiveness of an angry wolverine. He believes that the best defensive linemen pursue a play. He makes tackles in the backfield and takes passes away from receivers. No matter the down or distance, Tim Bulman is striving to make a play on the ball.
Not everything has gone his way. A highly rated defensive tackle at Boston College, he ended up going undrafted and then bounced around practice squads. Like many great players, this path hasn't deterred or dissuaded Tim Bulman from maintaining confidence that he is an NFL player. With a great deal of humility, Bulman explained that he only worried about things he could control—
"I don't choose the roster. I don't write the contracts. I worry about my motor - going all out every play."
Bulman does worry about his conditioning, evidenced by when he started his training for the offseason on January 23rd. He worries about making this year a career year. This we call character.
Tim Bulman told me that his college defensive line coach, Keith Willis, instilled an ideal in him that he works for every play. Coach Willis told him that any player could make any play. Tim Bulman realized that he could deflect a pass, sack a quarterback or block a punt. He's spent his whole career doing just that. He's deflected a pass intended for Ernest Wilford, covered punts and even long snaps. Simply put, Tim Bulman is a playmaker.
Tim Bulman's sports career started on the basketball court. He still has his Larry Bird jersey, which he wears around the Texans locker room. He played basketball until his freshman year of high school. He followed the trail his older brother Andrew blazed onto the gridiron. A knee injury his freshman year made him realize two things: That his future wasn't in basketball, and that he was really good with the pigskin. From that moment, he was filled with the determination to excel and succeed. He was clean cut all through high school. While other guys partied, he trained. He knew that his God-given talent was an opportunity to go places and he took it with a vengeance.
Bulman at BC (Chuck Burton/AP)
The 2005 draft was unkind to Bulman, as he was originally seen as a first day prospect, he continued to fall down draft boards because of the dreaded label of "undersized," despite putting up a combine best 35 reps on the bench press and doing exceptionally well in other drills. His teammates were surprised that he went undrafted; they knew he was a big part of the maroon and gold monster. Tim Bulman uses the pain of that day to fuel his motor.
Arizona was his first stop in the NFL. He had pretty big shoes to fill, as he was issued Kyle Vanden Bosch's number when he arrived. Everyone on the Cardinals defense knew that Vanden Bosch would break out in 2005 because of how hard he worked. Bertrand Berry and Reggie Wells told him he had to live up to that work ethic wearing that jersey. Bulman vows that Texans' fans are going to see just how hard of a worker Tim Bulman is this year.
Bulman fought, but not everything went his way. He spent two years on the sidelines as a practice squad and rotational player. He was then put on waivers and claimed by the Indianapolis Colts. They also brought in Dan Klecko. They only had one roster spot available and ultimately decided to sign Klecko for his experience. So Bulman drove his Yukon Denali to Houston when the Texans called.
Once again on a practice squad, Bulman didn't stop fighting. He caught and continues to catch Gary Kubiak's eye. Kubiak related: "He's done a lot of pass rushing with the first group in Nickel and those type of things. He's a guy that's earning his keep. He's done a very good job. He's going to be hard to keep off the field. That's the type of worker he is. He's an interesting kid. I remember last year I went to him and offered to take him on a trip with us when he was on the practice squad. He said, ‘Coach, I'll go when I earn my trip when I'm playing.' So he's earning his trip right now."
MORE IN PART TWO