Making big plays, A.J. Bouye has raised some eyebrows in training camp this year.
It's no easy feat, considering he's part of a secondary that includes veteran tandem, Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, as well as last-year's first-round draft pick, Kevin Johnson.
He's been so impressive that head coach Bill O'Brien called him one of the most improved players on defense this offseason. The 25-year-old cornerback appears more confident while going toe-to-toe with a talented group of receivers. In his time off this summer, Bouye hit the gym and added ten pounds to his frame to increase his strength.
"I just started training somewhere different—went back to my old roots, started training with some of my friends in the league and just paying more attention to detail, really just focusing on techniques and just working on my weaknesses," Bouye said in an interview with Texans TV. "That was pretty much it."
Going back to his roots also meant reverting back to his old jersey number. Bouye, who had worn No. 34 for the Texans, decided to make the switch to a different number this summer. A fan of Deion Sanders growing up, Bouye wore No. 21 during his days at Central Florida.
The fourth-year cornerback finally had a chance to wear it once again.
"Yes, I was waiting," Bouye said. "When I'm in 21 it just feels way different. I wore it in college and I tried to get it a few years back, but couldn't get it; somebody beat me to it. So just to have it is a good thing and I just want to represent it right."
The number change suits him.
Bouye has been hard to complete a pass on during red-zone drills. Consistency and three years of experience in the system have helped Bouye, according to secondary coach John Butler.
"He has a good skill set," Butler said Sunday. "He is a long player with good cover skills, he's tackling better now so I think he's starting to put all of it together and he's shown us, through the last couple of years, in games he's made some pretty big plays for us so it's just that consistency and that confidence of putting it all together."
A big special teams contributor, Bouye also played a majority of snaps at gunner during the second preseason game against the Saints. O'Brien said Bouye has been one of the special teams players that stood out from Saturday's 16-9 win over New Orleans.
"I got beat a lot and last year I was just worried about what people said," Bouye said. "But I just can't let that get to me. This year I have a lot more motivation off the field, there's just certain people I have to take care of. I just know to go out here and compete and help this team and that's what I'm going to keep doing no matter what. Defense, special teams, wherever they need me at."
Preseason continues for the Texans as they host the Arizona Cardinals in a nationally-televised game on Sunday. Kickoff has been changed to 3:25 p.m. CT (from 3 p.m. CT) and will be broadcast on FOX and SportsRadio 610.
Texans players were excited about picking up their brand new copy of Madden 17.