Broncos’ Ayers working way out of doghouse
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – 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 source.
“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 2010.
“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 31/2 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 out.”
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 concept.
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 fast.”
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 fast.
“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.”