Posted Sun Aug 14th by Jon Heath
To help pass the time, we’re reviewing 31 players in 31 days (in alphabetical order) leading all the way up until Game Day on Monday, September 12th. Today’s player: defensive end Robert Ayers.
A third year defensive end who played collegiate football at Tennessee, Ayers was drafted by the Broncos in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Measuring up and weighing in at 6-3, 274 pounds, Ayers will be returning to his natural defensive end position this season after playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense the previous two years.
Quick Facts/Stats (courtesy of the Denver Broncos):
- A third-year defensive end who totaled 57 tackles and 1.5 sacks (6.5 yds.) in his first two NFL seasons at the outside linebacker position.
- Started 10-of-11 games played in 2010 and tied for the team lead with 10 quarterback hits despite missing five games due to injury.
- Recorded a tackle for a loss in four consecutive games to start the 2010 season.
- Notched the longest scoring fumble return by a Broncos rookie in team history with his 54-yard touchdown on Monday Night Football vs. Pittsburgh (11/9/09).
- Led the University of Tennessee in tackles for a loss during each of his final two years at the school, totaling 27.5 tackles for negative yardage over that stretch.
- Earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors as a senior at Tennessee in 2008, starting all 12 games at defensive end and leading the conference with 15.5 tackles for a loss in addition to pacing Tennessee’s defensive line with 49 tackles (34 solo).
- Shared the Andy Spiva Award as Tennessee’s most improved defender in 2008 while helping the Volunteers tie for third in the country in total defense (263.5 ypg.) and rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense (16.8 ppg.).
- Selected by the Broncos in the first round (18th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Did You Know… Ayers wore #91 in college but chose not to ask veteran defensive lineman Ronald Fields for the number when he arrived in Denver. Ayers ultimately decided to go with #56, and has worn the number for the past two seasons. Two years after drafting Ayers, the Broncos drafted fellow linebacker Nate Irving — who wore #56 in college — last April and issued him jersey #91 (Fields was not re-signed following the 2010 season). Ayers and Irving then agreed to switch jersey numbers after settling some legal issues with Reebox (the NFL’s jersey supplier did not want to lose money on all their un-sold #56 “Ayers” jerseys). Today, Ayers wears #91 again.
Quote ‘Em: “I might be the most excited person on the team about that. It’s going to allow me to do the things that I’m good at, the things that I’m most familiar with.” — Ayers on playing across from fellow defensive end Elvis Dumervil. (Via Predominately Orange)
Hopefully this is the year Ayers breaks out. Playing alongside Dumervil and Von Miller certainly won’t hurt.