DE Robert Ayers
September 7, 2015
Q: What kind of boost getting JPP back will that be for your defense?
A: Like I just said, not just on the field type thingójust the morale of the unit. Heís a true warrior for us. Heís put in a lot of work for us. Heís grinded, heís busted his butt for us and this team. To have him back is going to lift everyoneís spirit, because every day heís on our mindsóworrying about him, thinking about him, wishing him well. To see him back, see his smile and his energy that he brings to this unitóitís really going to lift us up. How he plays, and if he plays, and when he playsóthatís another thing. But just being around your brother, thatís big.
Q: How hard is it going to be for him to catch up? Youíve been in the defense for six months now, how hard will it be for him?
A: Thatís like asking me, ĎHow hard will it be for a Ferrari to get going?í Again, thatís what he is. I view him as a well-oiled machine. Heís a very smart guy, so I canít tell you how long itís going to take for him to get things going. Heís going to do everything he can to get ready. Some guys learn faster than others. Iím not the smartest fish in the barrel myself. So he may catch on, be right there. But I definitely expect him, whenever heís ready, to be full-tilt and to give it his all, and do whatever it takes for him to be ready. Thatís the one thing I can promise you, heís going to prepare. The results, weíre going to see.
Q: Is this a complicated defense versus other systems youíve played in? Describe what his learning curve is going to be like? Do you view this as a complicated defense?
A: To a super-smart guy like Jon Beason, itís probably as simple as A-B-C. To a guy like me, maybe itís difficult. So I donít know. It all depends on how people interpret things. I feel like with defenses, you classify and group things together to make it understandable for yourself. I think heís done that in the past, too, the way his career went with not having much football background and learning. So heís definitely equipped mentally to pick it up. Heís a guy that can learn on the fly. So Iím excited to see when he comes in and how fast he picks it up. As far as predicting how long itís going to take, I donít know. Like I said, one thing is for sure, heís going to give it his all, and heís going to prepare the way he always has done. Thatís what I expect from him. Weíre going to see how things work out, but I definitely expect for him to work his butt off and be ready.
Q: Is there a question of how much he can use his hand?
A: Pass rushing is not necessarily about pushing and grabbing and pulling. Itís about hand combatóyou put your hand on me, I knock it off. You do something, I lift. If you watch JPP and truly study him, heís not a big grab guy. Youíve got some guys who rush the passer and play the run that push, pull, grab guys like that. But JPP is so powerful, sometimes he just lifts guys without grabbing them. So for his game, the way he plays, and the way I study him and see the things he doesóI think heíll be alright. But a lot of injuries is the mental part of it. Like for me, for example, dealing with an ankle or whatever, you have to get over the mental part and teach yourself that youíre okay. I think once he does that, once he feels comfortable, I think heíll be the same JPP that we have all grown to love and see. Iím looking forward to it and Iím excited for it. I just want to get him back and work with my guys. Iím looking forward to it.
Q: Have you been able to think about what this is going to be like if heís out there?
A: I think the standard is set regardless of whoís out there. Whether itís you out there, D-Tackle, playing on double teams. If you come out there with us, weíre going to expect for you to be a monster out there. Thatís just the standard that we have of our guys. The tradition and the way we try to approach the gameóno matter whoís out there, we have a bar thatís set and we want to reach it. Whether heís out there, whether Iím out there, whoeverówe expect to be able to play at a high level. So, thatís the way we go about things, and thatís the way weíre going to try and do it. If we get him back, heís going to have that bar set. Hurt, injured, or whatever, if youíre out there, thatís what is expected. Thatís just the mindset that weíve had going forward.
Q: Have you ever wondered, if my hand had an injury like that, what would it be like?
A: I have. But I did that once, I broke my hand. I broke my, what, third metatarsal? Whatever you want to call it. I broke that in college once. I played with a big cast. I didnít have anything at all. It was tough, but you manage. You look at Patrick Willis, he became a first-round draft pick with a ball (on his hand) the whole season. I donít know if you guys remember him coming out of Ole Miss, but he played with a ball on his hand. He couldnít grab anything. I think one time against Tennessee, he had like 25 tackles. So itís going to be tough, but anything worth having is worth working for. I do believe that heís going to put in that work. Weíre going to see what happens, but Iím excited to have him back as a friend and as a teammate. What happens on the field is going to happen. I think heíll be alright though.