Detroit Lions sign free agent pass rusher Robert Ayers
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK — When healthy, Robert Ayers has been a pretty productive pass rusher.
The Detroit Lions could use some help in that area, and now the veteran defensive end has a chance to provide it.
The Lions signed Ayers in their latest attempt to bolster their defensive front. Now entering his 10th NFL season, Ayers made 10 starts in each of the past two seasons with Tampa Bay. He has 35 sacks, including a career-high 9 1/2 with the New York Giants in 2015.
“For me, as a young guy, when I first got in the league, he was one of the veterans that I just paid a lot of attention to,” said Detroit linebacker Devon Kennard, who was with the Giants when Ayers was there. “Just how he handled his business, how he went about film and taking care of his body and stuff.”
The Lions also announced Monday that they had waived cornerback Josh Okonye. They did not announce these moves until shortly after coach Matt Patricia had finished his news conference, so he was not available to comment on Ayers’ addition. Ayers would not speak with reporters after practice.
Ayers was a first-round draft pick in 2009 by the Denver Broncos. He spent five seasons with them and then two with the Giants.
Ayers has played in 12 games in each of the past four seasons. He dealt with concussion and shoulder problems toward the end of last season, and he has also had ankle and pectoral muscle issues in the past few years. He turns 33 on Sept. 6.
But in his 48 games over the past four seasons, Ayers had 23 sacks, and if he can keep pressuring the quarterback, he can help the Lions. Only three NFC teams had fewer sacks than Detroit last season.