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The Wild Card

Posted Aug 3, 2011

Robert Ayers said that with most of the attention on fellow pass-rushers Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, he hopes he can sneak up on quarterbacks as 'the wild card.'


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the first time in his NFL career, Robert Ayers is being asked to play on the defensive line.

And he's already excited about what the group can bring to the table in 2011.

"I think we can be as good as we want to be," he said. "If we tune into what Coach is teaching us, technique-wise, effort-wise and scheme-wise. If we tune in and lock in, there's no reason why we can't be great. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart."

The defensive line group has grown tremendously in the past week, as the acquisition of Jeremy Jarmon in a trade marked the first of six additions along the line -- including familiar faces Marcus Thomas, who was re-signed, and Ryan McBean, who signed his exclusive rights tender.

Head Coach John Fox said that while he hasn't seen most of the newcomers practice yet -- with the exception of Jarmon and Brodrick Bunkley, who came to Denver in trades -- "on paper and on tape, and the things they’ve accomplished in the National Football League, I think we’ve definitely improved.”

Ayers mentioned Derrick Harvey, Ty Warren and Bunkley specifically as he grew visibly excited about his new teammates.

"Definitely guys are going to come in and help and compete and push for starting roles and be able to make big contributions," he said. "I'm excited about it."

"That doesn't take anything away from the guys that we already had," he continued. "(Kevin) Vickerson's been doing good, (Louis) Leonard's been doing good. Jarmon's been doing good. There's going to be a lot of competition at a lot of different places. That's what makes a great team, when you can build depth and have competition."

Ayers has 58 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three passes defensed, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries -- one for a touchdown -- in his career as a linebacker. Now that he's on the line, he's anxious to put most of his focus on targeting quarterbacks.

Having Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller alongside him doing the same doesn't hurt, either.

"It's self-explantory," Ayers smiled. "Elvis, the sack leader two years ago, and Von Miller, who was a sack master in college and we think he can do the same thing here. I feel like I'm just the wild card. People are going to be looking at Elvis and these other guys, and hopefully I can punch them in the mouth a couple times. That's my goal.

"Once we get them paying attention to all three of us, that's when it's really going to get fun."

'NOTHING'S CHANGED'

Fox addressed the quarterback depth chart Wednesday, and said nothing has changed -- Kyle Orton remains atop the depth chart, but there is competition across the roster.

“I think my story has been the same, regardless of what you hear," Fox said. "I’m in those meetings every day, I know what’s said to everybody, and nothing’s changed. We’ve been singing the same song since seven months ago, so that remains the same.”

The head coach said he doesn't pay attention to the "circus" that tends to surround a quarterback competition.

“All I’m concerned with is what happens in that building," he said. "We can’t help what happens outside the building. I think everything is going as well as it could possibly go right now in all those rooms in there.”

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