I would assume he's taking Fujita's place as the SOLB. I could be wrong. Ayodele was a DE in college and the Jags converted him to an OLB. I can't imagine the Cowboys redefining him...again...as a MLB. Here's a brief article following my train of thought. With that being said, a few fans on the Cowboy message boards believe Ayodele and James will play ILB, while Ware and Burnett will be the OLB's. I guess we'll know in 1/2 year!I read he's going to play ILB next to Bradie James.
i will believe it when i see it...ayodele seems like he would be better outside and let burnett play inside with jamesCowboys | Ayodele expected to start
Tue, 14 Mar 2006 15:04:41 -0800
Nick Eatman, of DallasCowboys.com, reports new Dallas Cowboys LB Akin Ayodele is expected to start at inside linebacker for the 2006 season, along with LB Bradie James.
Cowboys LB Ayodele Expecting Smooth Transition
IRVING, Texas - When Akin Ayodele steps onto the Texas Stadium turf for a preseason game in August, it certainly won't be his first time.
Not only did Ayodele play a few high school playoff games there for nearby Irving MacArthur, but he also worked as a ball boy and an usher as a youngster at Texas Stadium as a teenager.
And even more than that, Ayodele has played two games against the Cowboys at Texas Stadium as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But when the lights come on for that first home preseason game against San Francisco on Aug. 26, Ayodele will officially fulfill his childhood dream of playing for the Dallas Cowboys - finally.
"Man, it's like a dream come true," Ayodele said this past weekend. "I've always dreamed of playing for the Cowboys. I've lived so close for so long. And you wonder if it's ever going to happen. But I'm here and I'm so excited. I can't wait to get started."
In a way, it already has started for Ayodele, who was working with the first-team defense at inside linebacker during the team's three-day mini-camp over the weekend.
And while adjusting to a new team shouldn't be that tough, especially one he grew up wanting to play for, adjusting to a new position is another story.
Ayodele spent the last four years playing outside linebacker in Jacksonville's 4-3 defense. And he played it rather well, becoming the first player in Jaguars history to post four straight 100-plus tackle seasons.
But the Jags allowed him to enter free agency, and it didn't take long for him to end up in Dallas.
"No hard feelings in Jacksonville, but I've been around long enough to see different scenarios in the league," said Ayodele, who signed a five-year, $15 million contract with the Cowboys on March 13. "And I understand that it comes down to a business. The organization does what's best for them. The players have to do what's best for your family. But it'll be fun. I look forward to it."
So the only potential snag for Ayodele will be the position change, moving from outside linebacker in the 4-3 scheme to basically Dat Nguyen's vacated inside position in the 3-4.
Can he handle it?
"Yeah, I think so . . . I've got to, right?" Ayodele said with a little more confidence. "It's different, for sure. But nothing I don't think I can handle.
"It's going to be an adjustment. But the coaches have done a great job of guiding me along the way, slowly. I've talked to Bradie James and Ryan Fowler, some of the inside guys. Some things are going to be a little different, but when it comes down to it, football is football."
That is the way Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells is thinking, too. He seems confident Ayodele can make the conversion inside.
In fact, Ayodele reminds Parcells of a few players he coached with the New York Giants when they were winning Super Bowl, mostly thanks to their stout defense.
"We're going to play him at the inside linebacker position on the weak side," Parcells said of Ayodele. "That's the position Harry Carson played when Carl [banks] was playing, and that is what we expect to be our high-producing, tackling machine, so to speak. Because in the defense that we play, the 3-4, the teams really don't run to the weak side very effectively against the 3-4. There are not that many schemes that they employ versus the 3-4 on the weak side.
"So as a result, a lot of the plays are going away from that player, and it allows him to run. He's going to get the opportunity tobe in pursuit quickly a lot of the time, and so anyone that is in that pursuit quickly is expected to produce at a high level. That's really where we're going to try to play him, where we played Harry and for a little while Pepper [Johnson], and Marvin Jones when I was with the Jets, guys like that who could run and hit pretty well."
Ayodele is replacing Nguyen, who suffered the neck injury early last season that landed him on injured reserve and eventually forced the veteran linebacker to retire.
That puts Ayodele in the middle next to James, the Cowboys' leading tackler last year. The pair should provide the experience up front for a rather young defense, yet one Ayodele claims could become one of the league's best.
"There is a lot of talent over here," said Ayodele, who comes over from a Jaguars defense ranked sixth in the NFL last year. "We have a chance to really do some things on defense this year. We've got a lot of talent at linebacker and really the entire defense. That was one of the reasons why I thought this was a good place for me to be."
That was just one of the reasons.
Of course, returning home is another. But with that, there always seems to be a few distractions and several more ticket requests.
"Every day . . . everyone is calling," Ayodele said. "Old friends from elementary school, high school. I didn't know I had so many friends. But that's OK.
"It's real good to be back. Everybody is glad that I'm back. And it's just real fun to be a part of this organization. It's a real honor to get an opportunity to showcase what I can do and be a part of a team that I believe has everything in place. It's just a matter of doing it. It's exciting because this is exactly where I want to be."
Right where he's been before. But this time he'll be wearing the uniform of choice.
August 8thOn the move
Because the Cowboys are pleased with Greg Ellis' switch to linebacker, they decided to move rookie first-round pick Bobby Carpenter from the outside to the inside. He is now backing up Akin Ayodele at weakside inside linebacker.
The move is fine with the Ohio State rookie, who said that, heading into the draft, most 3-4 teams pegged him as a weakside inside linebacker. The Cowboys drafted him with the intention of playing him at strongside outside linebacker because that's where they had a need. With Ellis, Al Singleton and Rocky Boiman there now, the need is not as great as it once was.
Rooting for Ellis
Greg Ellis admittedly remains uncomfortable at linebacker. But he is comforted by the support he's getting from the players and coaches.
"People seem like they want me to get it and do well," Ellis said. "It seems like you guys [the media] do. I don't know, maybe some of you all want me out of here. [but] it seems like everybody is supportive...Bill [Parcells], the defensive coaches, even the offensive coaches. It seems like they are trying to aid me in getting better at it."
Ellis making progress
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells acknowledges that Greg Ellis' move from defensive end to linebacker remains in the experimental stage.
"I'm just trying to find out if he can conclusively do this job," Parcells said. "If he does that, [it] will send us in one direction, and if I feel like gee whiz, maybe we can give ourselves more insurance at that spot, then it would set us in another direction. But I have been generally pleased with what I've seen, I'll say that much, and I think he's probably [pleased] with what he's seen."