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Bouye a technician, student and Broncos' No. 1 cornerback

"I know I can run with guys. But my technique will get me a step closer to the ball," said Bouye.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) takes part in drills during an NFL football practice Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Englewood, Colo.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As NFL cornerbacks go, A.J. Bouye is long and smooth and experienced.

To watch him rep after rep in Broncos training camp the past three weeks, though, is to see a cornerback who is above all a technician.

“You hit it right on the head with that one,’’ Bouye said in an exclusive interview with 9NEWS this week. “Technique is very important to me. I learned at an early age, especially in the early part of my career in college (at Central Florida), no matter how fast you are, if you don’t have technique, you won’t be in position.

“I know I can run with a lot of people. But my technique will get me a step closer to the ball and that’s one thing that I pride myself on.”

It helps that Bouye is also a superior student of the game, a player who watches film. Film work helps a player anticipate the opponent. What route a receiver typically runs on a certain down and distance situation, and from what formation is all there on film if a student studies it.

“Watching film, it helps put me in position,’’ Bouye said. “If I were in this call and a player ran this route, where will my help be? How will I run it? Will I have help? Studying film is really a process. It’s not something you watch through quickly. You have to break it down one thing at a time and that’s one thing I’ve learned and even in year 8, I’m still learning.’’

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye, right, jokes with safety Justin Simmons before they take part in drills during an NFL football practice at the team's headquarters Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Englewood, Colo.

Frederick Lyles is one of the best, most underrated NFL agents who prefers who stay below the radar and by himself, away from the major agency firms. Two of the biggest clients he had were undrafted cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Bouye. Between the two, Lyles has placed a starting cornerback in the Broncos’ secondary for going on 10 years.

Harris, who became the highest-paid No. 2 cornerback in the league when he signed a five-year extension in December 2014, left for a bigger agency last December and is now with the Chargers. Before Harris left, Lyles helped facilitate a trade that sent Bouye from Jacksonville, where he was a Pro Bowl and second-team All Pro selection for the great Jaguars’ defense in 2017, to the Broncos, where he is now the Broncos’ No. 1 corner.

Bouye, who three years ago received a multiyear contract worth $13.5 million a year that still ranks 8th among cornerbacks, is one of several departed stars from that 2017 Jaguars team that nearly beat New England in the AFC Championship Game.

It is always sad to see a small market franchise feel like it must shed quality players for the sake of the bottom line.

“It is but I never took it personal just because I knew the business side of it,’’ Bouye said. “A lot of guys had money tied into them and a lot of guys were set to make a lot of money and maybe they just wanted to have a fresh start.

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons (31), left, and cornerback A.J. Bouye toast teammates before taking part in drills during an NFL football practice Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Englewood, Colo.

“I still have some guys up there who played there and you hate to see what happened but it happens to all good teams, you can’t keep them all in the NFL. You know every year rosters are never the same every year. Unfortunately, it ended like that but they’re moving on just like we’re moving on.’’

Bouye was asked: In his four seasons with the Houston Texans and three with Jacksonville, who was the receiver who made him toss and turn a night or two knowing the challenge was coming on Sunday?

“I’m not tossing and turning,’’ Bouye said with a  laugh before going with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones as the two toughest receivers he’s faced.

So besides all his other qualities as an NFL cornerback, add confidence to Bouye’s game.

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