Watch: Robert Ayers idolizes a Giants legend

With Jason Pierre-Paul not in attendance at Giants training camp, all of the focus has shifted to how Robert Ayers can help fill the void along the defensive line. Find out what player Ayers grew up watching and how he had no problem asking for an autograph when he first met the former Giant.

If the Giants are going to be able to overcome the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul, they are going to need defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. to elevate his game. After coming over to the Giants from the Denver Broncos last season, Ayers accumulated 5 sacks in 12 game appearances. This year he will be needed to not only play more, but also do a lot more.

“Of course, I definitely want to be a complete player,” said Ayers. “I want to be able to do everything that they ask me to do, whether it be dropping in coverage or rushing the passer, stop the run, rush inside—whatever it is, I want to be able to do it all,” Ayers noted. “It’s why I’ve been able to be in this league for seven years. I feel like I can do a lot of different things.”

The defensive line will need people who are able to do multiple things on the football field, especially without Pierre-Paul.

Born in Jersey City, Ayers talked about how he has felt very comfortable returning to home, and how teammates have helped raise his comfort level.

“Soon as I got here I felt at home,” noted Ayers. “JPP is a great teammate, Damontre [Moore], Cullen [Jenkins]—I learned a lot from Cullen. I think my comfort level when I first got here was at 100 [percent].”

This camaraderie and communication is a must from the defensive line. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is devising some complex schemes, and especially without JPP, the front 7 is going to have to be on the same page.

Although Ayers played in 12 games last season, he saw limited action, and only started one game. This year, along with Damontre Moore, George Selvie, and others, they will need to up the ante. Seemingly, the longer that we don’t hear news about Pierre-Paul, the less likelihood there is for a positive prognosis, which means these guys need to be ready to contribute.

Ayers also talked about his encounter with another great Giants pass rusher, Michael Strahan.

“I got his autograph,” Ayers said of the former Giants great. “Growing up in the area, he was a role model, I idolized him. Local TV always had the Giants on, so he was the guy that I watched, you know, tearing people’s heads off,” said Ayers. Upon being asked if this was when you were a kid Ayers commented, “No, it was just now. It was last year in the offseason. I had him sign my hat. I’m gonna get it framed.”

Although Ayers says he didn’t ask for any football advice from the hall of famer, he does take things from what Strahan says.

“I didn’t really ask him about anything like that, but I listen to a lot of the things he’s saying in the media and just comments he makes.,” said Ayers. “In the interviews he gave in the past about the mentality and mindset and the will to win and things like that. That’s where I really get my information from him because he’s such a busy guy. Plus, I can be kind of shy.”

Robert Ayers may be shy when it comes to talking to one of his idols, but he isn’t shy when it comes to getting after the quarterback. The Giants are happy about that.

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