De’Marcus Ayers looking ready for action in Commanders training camp
By Cole Thompson, San Antonio Commanders Team Reporter
SAN ANTONIO — A quarterback’s best friend is a receiver who will catch anything thrown his way. San Antonio Commanders wide receiver De’Marcus Ayers is likely every quarterback’s favorite teammate thus far through camp.
The former Houston Cougar wideout continued to build momentum on day five of training camp. Throughout drills, Ayers caught every ball thrown his way in both one on ones and team practice. The slot receiver made several acrobatic catches including a double post pattern route against cornerback Oscar White that would have led to a touchdown.
“It was a really good practice overall,” Ayers said. “A lot of guys flying around, first day in full pads. It was a really amazing feeling to see that. It was a really good day to figure out how to get better while wearing the full gear and I think it was a great turnout for what we were looking for.”
Ayers, a two-time All AAC first-team wide receiver, is best known for his time as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ (2016) high tempo offense. During his rookie season, Ayers caught six passes for 53 yards and scored his first league touchdown. Coach Mike Riley has been impressed with the maturity level of Ayers early in camp.
“He’s a real experienced, confident route runner,” Riley said. “There’s guys like him where this isn’t their first rodeo. He’s been well coached, he knows his stuff and plays with a ton of confidence.”
Wednesday’s practice brought full contact to the Commanders practice and with it, several defensive backs were able to best San Antonio’s wide receiver room in press coverage. Cornerback Zack Sanchez (Oklahoma) could be in line to start of the Commanders defense after another hard day’s work. In coverage, the former All-American made four tackles and broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Josh Stewart (UTSA).
Sanchez was drafted to the Carolina Panthers and spent two seasons (2016-17) as a member of their secondary. A veteran leader for San Antonio’s defense, Sanchez sees The Alliance as the best opportunity for players to return to the NFL.
“It’s definitely an opportunity because once you’re out that loop, it’s really hard to get back in there, like incredibly hard. I think this is like the best thing to happen.
“There’s a ton of homegrown talent here and a lot of guys don’t get the look that they may need.”
The Commanders will practice Thursday afternoon, hoping to end their first week practice on a high note before taking a rest day on Friday. Here are Thursday’s practice notes.
- Standouts of the day included defensive lineman Richard Ash (Western Michigan) who excelled in pass rushing drills against offensive linemen and also recovered a fumble during a full team session.
- Wide receiver Speedy Noil (Texas A&M) caught every ball thrown his way during the live sessions against the defense. Included in those catches was one with cornerback Jordan Thomas (Oklahoma) in tight coverage and his hand trying to knock the ball out.
- Linebacker Nick Temple (Cincinnati) came away with the an interception during team drills as he picked off Logan Woodside (Toledo) on a pass meant for Ayers (Houston).
- Wide receiver Mekale McKay (Cincinnati) continues to impress on the outside. His highlight of the day was a deep reception from Dustin Vaughan (QB) on a post route.
- Cornerback Duke Thomas (Texas) made several plays in man coverages, including an interception off Woodside on a pass intended for wide receiver Carl Whitley (Abilene Christian).
The San Antonio Commanders are in training camp throughout January. The Alliance of American Football’s inaugural season begins Saturday, February 9, when the Commanders host the San Diego Fleet at the Alamodome. You can get your tickets at: SanAntonioCommanders.com/tickets