Broncos LB Ayers working way out of doghouse
The discord that led Robert Ayers to dwell in his coach’s
doghouse appears to have diminished.
After mostly watching from the sideline the first two days of
minicamp due to a “coaching decision,” the Denver Broncos
linebacker was back in the mix on a gloomy Sunday, working
primarily with the second team.
For now, the discontentment has abated.
Not that Ayers or coach Josh McDaniels would elaborate on its
“It was for a good reason,” Ayers said on his way to the
locker room after wrapping up practice. “End of the day, it will
make me a better player and better person.”
Whatever the disharmony may have been, McDaniels said he’s
already flipped the page.
“I commend him for the work he’s done and the way he’s
approached this entire offseason,” McDaniels said. “That’s
something I think that’s resolved itself and we’re all excited to
move forward with that. There are no other issues with it.”
Ayers was drafted with the 18th overall pick in 2009 to help
shore up a sagging pass rush. But it was a pretty uneventful
inaugural season for Ayers, the one bright spot coming when he
scooped up a fumble and raced 54 yards for a touchdown against
Pittsburgh on Nov. 9, a team record for a rookie.
Other than that, his stats were pretty bland – no sacks and 18
tackles in 15 games (just one start).
Not exactly the kind of numbers expected from a high pick.
With a season under his belt, though, Ayers is vowing changes in
“Physically, I feel better,” said Ayers, a standout at
Tennessee. “I know what to expect. I know what it’s going to be
like and I know my role. I have a better understanding of the
defense and I know what’s expected of me from the coaches and from
the other players on the team.”
Ayers will be competing for playing time with players such as
Jarvis Moss, another high first-round pick that hasn’t lived up to
expectations. Moss has just 3 1/2 career sacks since being taken
17th overall out of Florida in 2007.
“It’ll be interesting to see how that goes, but they know
they’re in a competitive situation,” McDaniels said. “I think
both of them improved because of that and we’ll let that play
For Moss, the challenge lies in learning how to keep up with
tight ends and tailbacks in the Broncos’ 3-4 defensive scheme. He’s
always been a relentless pass rusher, so dropping back into
coverage as a hybrid linebacker is a relatively foreign
So far, he’s relishing the role.
“I should have been doing this. This is what I was supposed to
have been doing when I came to the NFL,” said Moss, who’s trying
to add around eight more pounds to his 6-foot-7, 257-pound frame.
“If you put in the time and effort to understand stuff, when you
come out here on the field, everything slows downs and you can play
That’s dawning on rookie quarterback Tim Tebow as well, who
finished up the three-day minicamp in fine fashion as he made some
nice plays, some good reads.
Still, Tebow had his share of misreads, too, and times when he
held onto the ball too long in the pocket. That’s something he’ll
work on fixing before training camp begins in late July.
“Obviously, I’ll be here working out, throwing and running and
a lot of mental work as well,” Tebow said.
Anything in particular he needs to address?
“It’s hard to pick one thing I need to work on the most. I
think it’s a lot of things,” Tebow said. “Overall, it’s seeing
the defense, knowing the offense and knowing the audibles, how you
want to do the protections, knowing the calls and then playing
“This past week I think I improved a lot in just playing faster
and what we’re trying to do, but I’ve still got a ways to go as far
as understanding and comprehending the overall goal of each concept
and each play.”