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A look at how LB Akeem Ayers fits the Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Upon signing with the St. Louis Rams late last week, linebacker Akeem Ayers headed back to his roots.

Ayers entered the NFL as a member of the Tennessee Titans in 2011 when he was a second-round pick. Current Rams coach Jeff Fisher had just departed Tennessee but in Ayers' time with the Titans, he made plenty of connections with coaches who now reside in St. Louis.

With the Rams, Ayers reunites with linebackers coach Frank Bush and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He also gets a chance to get back to a 4-3 defense, which apparently is a better fit for his skill set.

After arriving in Tennessee as a rookie, Ayers played outside linebacker in the Titans' base 4-3 scheme with his most effective use coming as a designated pass-rusher off the edge in sub packages.

When Ray Horton took over as Tennessee's defensive coordinator in 2014, the Titans converted to a 3-4 scheme. Ayers promptly got lost in the shuffle because he didn't really fit as an edge-rusher in a 3-4 and wasn't particularly adept at taking on guards or defending the run so couldn't transition inside in that defense, either.

In fact, Ayers got left so far behind that he played just 10 defensive snaps in the first seven games for the Titans before he got traded to the New England Patriots.

A little bit of trial and error for Bill Belichick and Co. eventually found Ayers' best use.

I asked ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss for a scouting report on what he saw from Ayers in his time with the Patriots. Here's what he had to say:

"The Patriots traded for him midseason and he really shined here. Mainly as a designated pass-rusher in a run of games when the Patriots were playing mostly sub (packages) against pass-first teams."

Ayers piled up 17 tackles and four sacks over the final nine games with most of his damage coming as a pass-rusher.

Now that he's in St. Louis, it's probably fair to expect Ayers to get some work as the team's strongside linebacker, probably even as a starter. He's not known for his ability to defend the run but he showed some improvement in that regard for the Patriots and has had moments where he's been good in that area in the past.

But one thing we know about Williams is that he's as good as it gets when it comes to cooking up ways to use his players, especially those with pass-rushing ability.

So while Ayers might end up as the starter on the strong side, it's probably wise to expect to see him all over the place in Williams' defense, especially in passing situations. Ayers could even put his hand down as an edge-rusher in certain situations. All told, he's just the type of movable chess piece that Williams loves to find a place for in his attacking scheme.