JACKSONVILLE – A.J. Bouye is here, and happy about it.
The Jaguars' veteran cornerback covered multiple topics Tuesday during his first media availability of the 2019 offseason, but that was perhaps the major takeaway.
Bouye is participating fully during this voluntary period.
And he said that's a good, necessary thing.
"I've learned it's important," Bouye said Tuesday afternoon following the fourth practice of the Jaguars' 2019 organized team activities at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
"I've learned from other guys from other teams it's important to be here, to establish that leadership and that chemistry. It all starts now. It's going to be too late when you come to [training] camp.
"That's one thing I wanted to be sure of, that I was going to be a good example to the younger guys."
Bouye, a Pro Bowl and Associated Press All-Pro second-team selection following the 2017 season, spent much of 2018 dealing with injuries. He didn't play poorly and said Tuesday his self-study of last season showed no passing touchdowns allowed.
But he wasn't quite the play-making, elite corner in 2018 as he had been in 2017, and Head Coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday he has seen a difference in Bouye's approach this offseason.
"I can't speak for A.J., and his thoughts on where he was [following last season], but I can speak for the way he has come back,'' Marrone said. "He's kind of come back with a sense of, 'I'm going to work on this, I'm dedicated to this, all of the little things, all of the little details' … all of the things that got him to be such a great player, you see a lot of that emphasis for him being on it.
"You see it on the side. He may be doing something little – maybe a little footwork that he's going to be in in press coverage, by himself, on air. He's just very much engaged in the skill of his game. That's what I see from him right now."
Such focus isn't unusual for Bouye, who said he missed time at times during the voluntary part of last year's offseason to be with his sick father.
"Everything's better at home," Bouye said. "My dad's definitely healthy. I was trying to be there for him for support last year."
Bouye, who missed two games with a calf injury and one with a toe injury after playing all 19 regular- and postseason games the season before, said Tuesday 2018 was frustrating at times. He finished last season with one interception and eight passes defensed after registering six and 18, respectively, in 2017.
"When you have soft-tissue injuries and you know you're not at your best, you get frustrated – especially when the year before you made a lot of plays and put the team in a good situation," he said.
He was asked how he felt now.
"I feel great," he said. "I definitely feel great."
Bouye, a seventh-year veteran, called himself a big fan of studying what makes people good – and said he likes to focus on that in the offseason. He spoke last offseason of spending time with All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown at the Pro Bowl discussing his own weaknesses – and he said Tuesday this offseason has been busy with him and his fiancé expecting a second daughter, and with the two planning to be married next offseason.
"I'm learning how much of a job it is with marriage," he said with a smile. "That helps me out with my patience and everything. There was a lot this offseason, but I'm grateful for it."
Bouye, who said he has tried to add strength and size this offseason to improve against the run, said his primary focus professionally this offseason has been on studying athletes from other sports such as former basketball superstars Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and baseball player Manny Machado.
"It's not just physical, it's mental," he said. "I was picking apart some of the people's brains."
Mostly, Bouye said he has spent the offseason "just working on me."
"My mindset really is the other player didn't beat me; I beat myself," he said. "Some plays I give up, that happens. You learn from them, take the good with the good and the bad with the bad and just keep having that mental approach of playing the next play.
"That's one thing I've had to learn: Certain corners don't end up getting the same amount of picks they did the year before. It's not about the quantity of picks you have, it's about the work you put in. I had a lot of good plays out there.
"I had plays I could have worked on, I learned from that and I'm going to keep learning."
The Jaguars were back on the field on Tuesday.