The Buccaneers on Tuesday took the field for the first time this offseason, participating in a closed walkthrough followed by practice to begin voluntary minicamp.

Free agent Giants DE Robert Ayers is visiting Tampa Bay - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs DE Robert Ayers – Photo by: Getty Images

While the offense already has a decent handle on their responsibility in Dirk Koetter’s scheme, Tuesday marked the first opportunity for the defense to take what they’ve learned about Mike Smith’s system from the film room and execute it on the practice field.

As expected, they’re not quite there after one day.

“Right now we’re terrible,” said Robert Ayers, drawing laughs in a moment of candor. “Nobody knows anything this time of year.”

Ayers said schematic ignorance in April is nothing to worry about, especially when guys are “willing to learn and get better,” such as the case in Tampa Bay. And though the recently signed defensive end wasn’t there for the 2-14 and 6-10 seasons the past two years, he understands the expectations and already has a sense of his teammates’ urgency.

“Guys are hungry to win, man,” Ayers said. “Everyone has things they need to work on and everyone is just getting after it. We’re all tuned in to the scheme on defense and trying to get better, and help the next man get better at the same time.”

Ayers, who said he’s prepared to take reps wherever they need him on the D-Line, believes Smith’s defense will position the defense for success; it’s just about players putting in the time and using coaching to their advantage.

The Bucs are set to add more players, particularly on defense, in a couple days to join them in their quest to become a top unit this season. That’s something Ayers is looking forward to, even if it likely means another defensive end. The former Bronco and Giant, familiar with team success, values completion at every position and would welcome an edge rusher to challenge and be challenged by.

“If we took Reggie White in this draft and they put him behind me, that’s only going to make me better,” Ayers said. “He’s either going to beat me out or I’m going to beat him out, but at the end of the day, we’re all going to get better.

“As a veteran, you want to show the young guys how to do things and help them out, increase their knowledge of the game. Hopefully they can help us win. I’m excited for whoever comes in here.”

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at:
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5 years ago

I wonder why Ayers didn’t start? Did I miss something?

Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

They said he started on the left end