Broncos fans have fretted for weeks about the future of the defensive end position given the departure of Elvis Dumervil.
Robert Ayers thinks there’s nothing to worry about.
A first-round pick in 2009 whose career to date has been underwhelming at best, Ayers sees himself as the guy who’ll step up, now that Dumvervil has stepped off.
“He’s a guy that mentored me a lot, taught me a lot about the game,” Ayers told reporters on Wednesday regarding Dumervil. “I’ve grown as a man since I’ve been here and as a player in the NFL. It’s tough to see him go. But it’s part of the business, and I know it’s a big opportunity for myself. We’ve talked about it. One thing he said, ‘Man, do your thing. You’re more than ready.’ He’s still encouraging. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s an opportunity that I look forward to taking advantage of.”
And so Ayers wasn’t surprised when he was told that he’d be the starting defensive end on the right side of the line.
“That was my mindset once I heard the news [about Dumervil],” Ayers said. “I knew it was an opportunity for me, and I’m looking forward to it. The fact that he says that doesn’t make me relax or anything — it makes me hungry. Because I know there are a lot of expectations, and I have high expectations of myself. So I’m just looking forward to working hard and being ready to take advantage of it.”
Ayers has 6.5 career sacks in four seasons, via 57 games and 24 starts. He earned zero starts in 2012, the first year of his career in which Ayers didn’t start at least one game.
After talking over an extended period of time with defensive end Dwight Freeney, the Broncos signed former Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips to a one-year deal with no guaranteed money and an intention to make him a defensive end in the 4-3. To keep that starting job in 2013, Ayers may have to hold off Phillips.