HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – AJ Bouye won’t say he is going to be emotional when he takes the field at NRG Stadium on Sunday even it will be the first time he steps on the field on the visiting sideline.
During the offseason Bouye signed a five-year contract with $26 million in guaranteed money with the Jacksonville Jaguars during the offseason after spending his previous four seasons with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida.
Bouye is excited about the match-up especially lining up against his former teammate and off the field friend DeAndre Hopkins
“I’m just looking forward to the matchup,” Bouye said on lining up against Hopkins. “I know what he brings just like he knows what I bring. It’s going to be a dogfight, we already know. I’m just going to take it one play at a time and just go out there and compete.”
Bouye, who worked his way into a starter’s role in Houston in 2016 after injuries throughout the season to the Houston secondary. He would start 11 games and ended up with two post-season interceptions and made himself one of the most sought after free agents.
Bouye said his time lining up against Hopkins for several years on the Texans scout team gave him an opportunity to improve and eventually blossom into the player he is now.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien mentioned the amount of respect he has for Bouye as he returns to Houston and praised his drive and perseverance.
“A lot of that was obviously because of his own work ethic, his ability to be here day in and day out and work and then obviously going against (Hopkins) on the scout team, that was a very important part of his development too,” O’Brien said on Bouye’s quick ascent to a starting cornerback role last season.” “I know (Bouye and Hopkins) are close friends and I think when the game starts, all that goes out the window. It’s just a matter of executing and making sure you’re doing your job on both sides of the ball. But, we have a lot of respect for A.J.”
The match-up with Hopkins will be especially interesting as Bouye’s growth admittedly was a direct result of competing against Hopkins everyday at practice for four seasons on the Houston scout team. However, he wouldn’t say he has an edge on covering Hopkins because of that experience.
“Just like I know how to play against him, he knows the same things to get me and I’m going to be expecting that just like he’ll be expecting,” Bouye said. “I’m just going to have to feel it out early in the game and just get going. Can’t be ahead of it, just got to try to make plays. That’s the plan.”
Bouye is aware that him becoming a high dollar free agent corner happened because the Texans remained committed to him despite being an undrafted free agent and were patient with his development. As Bouye returns to Houston for the first time, he is grateful for the chance the Texans took on him.
“I’m glad I didn’t focus on all the setbacks, especially early in my career when a lot of people counted me out, said I wasn’t supposed to be there, get cut and everything,” Bouye said. “I just used all that as motivation and I’m very appreciative of the coaches and the organization of Houston for just never giving up on me and giving me another chance to go out there and make those plays when the opportunity was given to me.”
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio