Ayers says Bucs defense 'less terrible,' learning quickly
Even before he signed a contract with them, Giants free agent defensive end Robert Ayers looked at the Bucs and believed they were on the verge of winning.
After nearly completing off-season workouts, he said the talent on the defensive line is even better than expected and gives the Bucs a real chance to compete.
"I feel like we can compete," Ayers said Wednesday. "I'm not just saying that because I'm here now, but from the outside looking in, I always thought Tampa (Bay) man, they're right there. We've got some guys. The big three on offense, one of the best defensive tackles in the game with Gerald, Clinton (McDonald) who's been and underrated dog, Jacquies (Smith), who got hurt last year, but talking about pass rush, that guy was beasting until he got hurt. Noah (Spence) can play. Howard (Jones) is super-fast out there. Kourtnei Brown. Akeem (Spence). There's some talent, man. We've just got to do what we need to do, work to get better and I feel like we can kick anybody's ass. That's just my opinion.
"Some people might not think so, but I see them out here and they can get after it. They can really do some damage."
Ayers began the off-season calling the Bucs' defensive line "terrible," as they began to learn the new system under Mike Smith. And as they wrap up the mandatory minicamp?
"We're a little less terrible," Ayers said. "We're getting better and that's all we can ask for. We're trying to get to the end of the tunnel, so each day is a day to get better, a day to prepare, a day for me and my guys to get to know each other better and grow as a unit and build a chemistry.
"The reason I say we're terrible is because we're not where we need to be. So for me, it's 100 percent or nothing and if you're not 100 percent, you're terrible. You're either first or you're last. And right now, we're not where we want to be and that's why I say we're terrible. I want to get to the big game, I want to win and that's all I care about. So until we win, we're terrible."
Ayers, who had a career-high nine sacks last season for the Giants in only 12 games, has bounced around on the defensive line during the off-season trying to define his role.
"I spent half the training camp at left end and half at right end and then I started doing some stuff inside and then we got things I have to learn with dropping," Ayers said. "It's just a matter of showing Coach what I can do and him seeing what we all can do and then it's up to him to figure out which is the better situation."