Robert Ayers faces critical season

Robert Ayers is getting a chance to start again in Denver. He is not taking the chance for granted.

The former first-round draft pick didn’t start at all last season after starting 23 games in the two previous seasons combined. With Elvis Dumervil gone in free agency, Ayers will get the chance to play in Denver’s base defense. He said he learned from last year’s experience.

“It definitely made me mature a lot,” Ayers told reporters in Denver. “Of course it wasn’t an ideal situation I would’ve wanted to be in, to where I’m not starting, I’m not playing like I wanted to. But I learned a lot. I was able to sit back and watch the game unfold. When I was able to go in, I was able to see tendencies from other people that they were already doing. If I see Elvis is doing a certain thing, I know when I come in, maybe the offensive tackle didn’t deal with that well. So I have a head start on what I can do when I get ready to go in.

"I was able to have some success when I went in. I learned a lot from Von [Miller], too. That was my thing -- regardless of that it’s not a situation that I wanted to be in, I want to win this ring. That’s what I was trying to do. So I knew when I got the opportunity, I was going to try to play [lights] out. That really was my focus last year.”

Ayers said he was focused on becoming a starter again as soon as Dumervil left for Baltimore this spring. Ayers, who has been solid as a run defender, knows he has had an average career after being the No. 18 overall pick in 2009. He knows this year is big for him. He is a free agent after the season.

“I’m not satisfied with any of it,” Ayers said of his career thus far. “There’s a lot that I feel like I should’ve done. Whether it be because of my maturity level or opportunity or whatever, point blank, period, I didn’t do the things I wanted to do coming into this league. This year is an opportunity for me to try to get back on track to where I want to be. That’s what I’m focusing on. This is a big year for me and a big year for this team. I’m looking forward to doing big things. That’s all I’m really focusing on is this year, and the past four years are a lot of motivation.”