With the injuries of Kawika Mitchell and Paul Posluszny, the Bills found themselves in need of an experienced and talented linebacker to help the defense against a high-powered offense in the Green Bay Packers and in the games to follow. The Bills felt fortunate that nine-year veteran linebacker, Akin Ayodele was available and are expecting him to contribute right away.
Ayodele is well aware that the two injuries have given him an opportunity to play. While it is difficult to see a fellow teammate go down, he knows it's more important to be ready to play.
"You never relish anybody getting hurt," said Ayodele. "This is a game of brotherhood and we understand how hard we work, but this is an opportunity to get on the field and make some plays."
Ayodele has experience playing the 3-4 the last two years in Miami, starting in 28 games, as well as with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006-2007 where he logged 30 more starts.
When asked how he has adjusted to learning the team's terminology and scheme, he felt good about his progress
"It's coming, I think I've played enough to understand how things work and I'm getting a feel for the guys and how everything fits," he said. "But in due time and practice, it'll happen."
Ayodele believes reconnecting with his former linebacker coach when he was with the Dolphins, George Edwards, now defensive coordinator for the Bills, will serve both him and the team well.
"George knows what I can do, and I know him as a coach what he does, so I think this defense and this team are fortunate to have a coach like George, with his knowledge of the game," Ayodele said.
Another connection he has to team is with Reggie Torbor. They played together on the Dolphins the last two seasons. Torbor knows the type of player Ayodele is and how his work ethic can translate to success.
"He's what you would expect from a veteran guy," Torbor said. "Even though he hasn't been in this particular defense it won't take him long. He's a smart guy and he's going to put the time in. Talking to him Wednesday morning about the game plan and the scheme he had already watched two or three games worth of tape. That's just the kind of player he is…he's going to bring a physical style to the run front. It's a good addition for us with guys falling off like they are around here."
Ayodele feels his skills can help the team in any capacity they ask of him. He is confident in his run defense as well as his pass defense. One thing you can pretty much count on with Ayodele is that he is a durable player that comes ready to play. He is one of just three active linebackers in the NFL to have not missed a regular season game due to injury (London Fletcher, Keith Brooking).
"I haven't missed any games in my career and it's a blessing," he said. "I think my offseason conditioning and my in-season routine has a lot to do with it. My knowledge of the game has helped me out a lot, putting myself in the right position, but I've been banged up. You just have to learn to play through it."
Focusing on the game on Sunday, Ayodele, who should see time in the team's base defense at inside linebacker, is well aware of the Packers high-powered offense (ranked 7th in passing offense, 6th in total offense in 2009).
"They have a very potent offense. They have a quarterback that can make any throw on the field. They have fast and crafty receivers with good hands, a veteran, solid offensive line that plays well together. We can't make the first mistake because they do a good job of capitalizing on mistakes and adjusting to what you do. At the end of the day if we are aggressive and play physical, it should play to our advantage."