Vikings 2011: Remi Ayodele

  • Updated: September 9, 2011 - 12:58 AM
Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar doesn't like to compare players, but he did mention one thing Remi Ayodele brings to the nose tackle position that Pat Williams no longer could.

"He's 10 years younger," said Dunbar, referring to the 28-year-old Ayodele. "I love Pat. But Remi brings in fresh legs. Young legs."

Age finally caught Williams from behind last season, his 14th in the NFL. By no coincidence, the Vikings run defense slid to ninth in the league (102.2 yards allowed per game) after ranking first in 2006 (61.6), 2007 (74.1) and 2008 (76.9), and second in 2009 (87.1).

The once-vaunted Williams Wall, with fellow defensive tackle Kevin Williams, was dismantled when the Vikings gave Saints free agent Ayodele a three-year, $9 million deal on July 28.

"I don't want to compare myself to Pat, because those are some big shoes to fill," Ayodele said. "I know I'm as strong as he is, but, believe it or not, he might be bigger than I am. He also was a lot quicker and watching film of him, you can tell he knew ahead of time the blocks that were coming at him. I'm trying to get to that level by watching how he played."

Like Williams, Ayodele joined the league as an undrafted underdog. The Vikings are Ayodele's sixth team in six seasons, including brief stints with the Patriots, Ravens, Falcons and Cowboys (three times).

Ayodele's breakthrough year came in 2009 when he started 13 games for a Saints team that won the Super Bowl. Last year, he started all 16 games on a defense that ranked 16th against the run (112.3).

Ayodele is, as Williams was, a two-down run stopper who will be responsible for plugging one gap. Ayodele is listed as one pound heavier than Williams (318 vs. 317) -- but everyone knows Big Pat was bigger than that.

"Yeah, there's pressure," replacing Williams, Ayodele said. "But to me, there's pressure every day. I'm still approaching it like that undrafted free agent just trying to make the team."

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