different and it's big, but it'll be fine."
Parcells seems to think so. His assessment of his new player: "He's willing, aggressive, and he likes football. He's fit into our program very well. He's playing pretty good. I think he's going to wind up being pretty valuable for us."
Learning the new system is part of Ayodele's assignment. The other part is joining a fairly veteran team after being used to one locker room, one set of rules, one way of doing things his first four years in the league. He admits it's the closest thing you can get to being a rookie again.
And proving yourself to new teammates doesn't just happen. "I'm still doing it," he acknowledges. "I have to do it every day, prove myself. There's no magic point when you know you fit in. It just happens with time, and when your time comes you have to be ready."
Apparently Ayodele is doing a good job of staying ready. Bradie James, who will be counted on to be one of the defensive leaders on what should be a very good unit, gives his new running buddy the stamp of approval.
"Our chemistry has to be real good," says James. "But he's a proven guy, four years in the league. He and I have to be on the same page, and he's already becoming a playmaker in this defense. It's a new position for him, and people don't know how much harder it can be. But he's not hesitating, and the last few practices he's made some real strides."
This is an important endorsement. Unless a lot of us railbirds at training camp miss our guess, this is going to be a pretty good defense. It's already a close-knit bunch, and players like James and Roy Williams and Terence Newman are its leaders. Ellis will be, too, as soon as he realizes that in spite of himself, he's making a pretty good outside linebacker. And DeMarcus Ware and Chris Canty and veterans like Anthony Henry and Aaron Glenn and . . .
A fellow has to pull his weight to fit in with this bunch, and Akin Ayodele has jumped right in. Even if no one asks about him.