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Cardinals rookie Elie Bouka thriving after time in Calgary

Defensive back Elie Bouka walks around during mini-camp. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
LISTEN: Elie Bouka, Cardinals defensive back

He started at the University of Calgary as a receiver. Now, Cardinals rookie Elie Bouka is making waves as a cornerback.

On The Doug & Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Tuesday, Bouka heard a clip of Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians calling him someone who “likes to hit.”

“That’s me right there, I can’t wait for training camp,” Bouka said. “That’s when real football starts, when you strap up and you can make an impact. I’m just an aggressive type of player so I’m excited to get to strap up.”

The 23-year-old defensive back played his freshman year at Calgary as a wide receiver. In an injury-shortened season, he registered eight catches for 143 yards and one touchdown. He later switched positions, simply because he wanted to.

“In the middle of my sophomore year, I just requested to switch to defensive back, just something I wanted to do,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t like playing receiver. It’s something I always wanted to do and they switched me.”

When the 6-foot-1, 210-pound back was asked if he’d now like to play less cornerback and more safety, Bouka emphasized the team’s needs.

“My whole life, I’ve been playing many positions,” he said. “I don’t have a preference. I know I can play corner, I know I can play safety. It’s just a matter of where they need me. I want to be in a position where I know I’m useful for my team and can be a contributor for my team.”

Bouka suffered a torn Achilles tendon while at Calgary, a setback from which he’s still recovering. According to the Quebec native, the Cardinals were appealing because of their plan for him.

“They had a plan from the get go,” he said of his new employer. “When I came here, they already knew my situation, they knew what they were going to do with it. I saw that they cared about my well-being.”

He can also line up alongside players like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, both similar to Bouka in their positional versatility. Across the line, he can practice against Larry Fitzgerald.

“[Mathieu] and Pat P – I switched to corner my sophomore year – and those are guys that I looked up to because of versatility. I pride myself in being a versatile player, and those are the guys that can do it all. Just being here and being around these guys and seeing how they prepare and how passionate they are, it set a standard for you to follow.”

Whether practicing against Fitz or taking the field on game day, Bouka said he won’t have much to say to his opponents. The man who ‘likes to hit’ can let his play do the talking.

“I’m not a guy that talks too much. I’m a guy who’s pretty quiet,” he said. “That’s just a way to express myself. I’m not a trash talker or anything. I like to speak with my game.”

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