The Houston Texans are currently proud owners of the NFL’s top ranked defense and their secondary has played a huge role in shutting down opposing offenses. A big reason for Houston’s dominance on defense is cornerback A.J. Bouye, who is one of the most improved players at his position this season.
In the 2016 regular season, Bouye tallied a career-best 62 tackles and 16 passess defensed while also recording a sack and an interception.
Bouye is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will be sure to earn himself a big payday regardless of who he chooses to sign with. At the cornerback position, size is also a talent and Bouye has plenty of it, standing 6-feet tall and weighing 190 pounds.
“It meant a lot for me personally as a player, but one thing that changed in the offseason was my mindset and just not being really selfish,” Bouye said. “The main thing was playing for the guys out there, not worrying about what’s going to happen with me or anything like that.
“Everybody on defense, we are really close and we are even close with receivers and everything. Just in the back of my mind knowing that I’m not just doing this for me, I’m doing this for my parents, I’m doing this for my teammates, the fans. They want to see us win. When you have that mentality out there on the field, how can you let your teammates down? That’s how we play.”
Bouye has been medically cleared after suffering a groin injury against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday and insisted he is ready for the AFC Wild Card game against the Oakland Raiders on Saturday at NRG Stadium, a place where the Texans hold an impressive 7-1 record.
Bouye is looking forward to a chance to serve revenge on the Raiders, who beat Houston 27-20 in Mexico City in November. In that game, Bouye registered an interception off of quarterback Derek Carr. Although Carr won’t play in the Wild Card game because of a fractured fibula, Oakland still has an exceptionally talented receiving corps which is led by Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
“We love it a lot, especially when I’ve always been brought up like this, with my dad especially, when you are going up against guys that think they are better than you,” Bouye said. “Great offenses are going to bring out the best in everybody. When the pressures on, the best come out of everybody. That’s just human nature in my opinion.
“I’m looking forward to it. I know my teammates are looking forward to it. We were ready to come in today and get started. It’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be a fight as usual. It’s the NFL. They have weapons just like we have weapons. We just have to take advantage of our opportunities.”
Due to injuries to both Carr and backup Matt McGloin, Oakland is expected to start rookie quarterback Connor Cook, who will be the first quarterback to make his NFL starting debut in the playoffs, on Saturday.
“At the end of the day, it comes back to experience, watching film and just watching what you see from him,” Bouye said. “They are always going to have something planned for a defense and we have to be ready for anything, but that’s where the instinct comes in, just playing football for so long, just knowing certain sets and certain things and just reacting and just competing.”