Through seven games with three starts, A.J. Bouye has 27 tackles (21 solo), one quarterback hit, one tackle for loss, eight passes defensed, and one sack. His performance at this point in the season even earned him recognition from the analysts at Pro Football Focus, the statistics-driven football website.
In Week 7 against Denver, the fourth-year cornerback had a team-high 11 tackles and two passes defensed. Bouye's progress isn't surprising, considering the competition he faces each week in practice, according to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.
"Each year, he's gotten better," Crennel said. "It started probably last year in practice when he was going against Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) every day. He would just matchup with Hop and basically he was taking show team reps. He and Hop would compete on every route. I think he got better as a result of it. Now, that's also carrying over to the football field on game day. He's competing and he's covering guys and doing a really good job."
Bouye's abilities to cover a variety of the league's top receivers and tight ends have earned him the confidence of his coaches. Bouye, who has recorded five interceptions over the last two years, hasn't had a pick this season, but he's come close. He knows that for now, tight coverage and making plays are his top priority. The interceptions will come too.
"It's just like in the game the other night," Crennel said. "They tried to throw a go route, a deep ball, and he was right on it. I really thought he was going to intercept it because I was standing there on the sideline and I said, 'A.J.'s got this. A.J.'s got this.' But the receiver knocked it down. His progress has been like that. You've got the kind of confidence in him that you feel like he's going to be able to cover whatever route they run against him."