Jason Hunter has apparently leaped over Robert Ayers on the depth chart. In the last two practices, Hunter has played on the first team base defense, while Ayers finds himself completely on the second team. Ayers previously lined up in one of the defensive tackle slots in the nickel and dime formations, but rookie draft pick Derek Wolfe has now taken over that role too.
Ayers was a first round draft pick of the Josh McDaniels regime in 2009. Ayers has been a huge bust, and people thought it may have been the end of the road for him in a Broncos jersey when John Fox was hired last season, but to much surprise, Ayers actually started on the 2011 defense that helped the Broncos win an AFC West title and playoff game vs. the Steelers. Ayers actually had the sack on Ben Roethlisberger that ended the playoff game in regulation to send the game into overtime.
However, plays like that from Ayers have been very rare through the first three seasons of his career. Although Hunter isn't a Pro Bowl player himself, Jason perhaps has a hungrier drive than does Robert. New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio praises Hunter on his toughness, "I love Jason," said Del Rio:
"Jason is a rugged defensive lineman; that's what we're looking for with our defensive line. He plays with great temperament, toughness, attitude. Every day he brings it with passion."
On the other hand, Del Rio said the following about Ayers,
"Robert has talent. He's working hard. He's probably working harder than he has in a while. We'll just continue to let camp play out and let things sort themselves out. But at this point, a week into it, Jason's had a stronger start to camp. That's all."
If Ayers can't find a role on the first team defense entering the season, the last highlight that we may have seen of No. 91 in a Broncos jersey was that sack on Roethlisberger.
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