Akeem Ayers on Rams' return to his native L.A., 'Hard Knocks'

NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Linebacker, Los Angeles Rams

Born: July 10, 1989

Experience: Five NFL seasons

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | March 24, 2016

I was in my car on Santa Monica Boulevard. I was just on social media and I seen [the Rams were coming to Los Angeles] and was like, I'm not even going to get excited. Then somebody text me and someone else said something. That's how I knew it was for real.

I was just telling all my family, really. They were the first ones that wanted to know. I told everyone ... my mom, my brother, my grandmother. I told my whole family.

Just playing in front of my family and being able to have my grandmother come to the games. She was a Rams fan growing up. Her dad took her to Rams games at the Coliseum, and she never missed one of my games -- until I started playing professionally, of course. But now that I'm back home, she'll be able to come to the games. She lives literally 10 minutes from the Coliseum.

It's going to be a little awkward for the first couple times being [at the L.A. Coliseum]. I only played there once. As long as the colors are changed, like I can act like it's not the Coliseum maybe, but when you go there and there is USC stuff everywhere. ... The crowd won't be all red, so that's going to play a big part, as well.

I'll be able to be involved in the community more. Growing up, we didn't have a football team. I know a lot of the Pop Warner kids gonna love to see a professional football player and things like that.

Jerry Rice. The 49ers were my favorite team because we didn't have one here. When I would turn the TV on, the 49ers would be playing. He was out there ballin', making plays.

I mean, I can't hit him. Nah, [Todd Gurley] is a good kid and really takes it all in. A lot of guys don't take advice, but he takes coaching well, and he's really just a student of the game, I'd say. As a young kid and the way he approaches the game as a rookie, I think he's gonna continue to have a lot of success.

My favorite uniform? I like the throwbacks with the yellow and the blue. Those are by far my favorites.

[To get to the top of the NFC West], I think we just need to be a little more consistent. That's just the biggest thing because we have talent, young talent, along with maturity. The way we approach each game week, how we prepare and just being a smart team. We have a young team, and I think we grew a lot this past season.

I only just finished my fifth year and I was like one of the older dudes on the team. There were probably like three dudes older than me, but we had a lot of young linebackers and defensive guys that would always ask me questions 'cause I just came from winning the Super Bowl.

When I came here, they were asking how was things in New England? Or how do we do this and do that? I was there to answer a lot of questions and just give my input.

It was kinda bittersweet [getting traded from Tennessee to New England]. Being there my first three years, and with a new coaching staff, I was ready to go, honestly. So when I finally got to New England, I was excited. You know, the rest was good from there. I was just excited to get the opportunity to go to another team and really just play and show Tennessee, Hey, this is what you missed out on. Then, I go win the Super Bowl and I can rub it in their face a little bit.

It's a definitely good learning experience. Previously, I didn't make it to the playoffs the first three years, and then going to [a Patriots team] that consistently is going to the postseason and consistently having winning records. Just seeing how they operate and how they approach each week and approach each game, and how the players in the locker room took it serious. It was business, but at the same time, you're having fun. But everybody is on their game each week.

We have a funny team, like sometimes I just wish there were some cameras out here to see. Now we will. When I say it's probably the funniest team I ever been around, like I'm just excited to see how ["Hard Knocks"] puts it together so you can really see the personality of our team.

The entire defensive line.Chris Long isn't there anymore, but he was one of them. William Hayes, Robert Quinn, all them guys are the funniest dudes.

William Hayes. He jokes around lot but at the end of the day, he's very serious and very vocal. He's one of the veterans on the team, and he just works hard. I think a lot of guys respect him 'cause all he does is work. He proves it every day in practice and games, so I would say [he's the heart of the Rams], by far.

[Jeff Fisher] is a players' coach. He really takes care of the players, always puts the players first. He's a coach that you always can go and talk to at any time. He's always available and welcomes you in to come talk to him if you have any issues, like anything.

I'm not [paying attention to March Madness] because UCLA didn't make it. So after that, I just really didn't care.

Yeah, Lakers are my favorite team. Kobe Bryant is my favorite player, of course. When I was a kid, that's all I seen in L.A.

Who made me miss the most? Hmm ... that's a good question.Andrew Luck, probably. He has good size and he's surprisingly athletic. We were in the same division for three years and I played him twice in New England. Just when you think you got him, he might hold onto the ball a little longer and throw it away at the last second, so I easily probably missed about four sacks against him.

Me, [I'm the best linebacker in the league]. Of course I'm going to say that because I have confidence in myself. If you don't think you're the best, you don't have nothing to work towards.

Marshawn Lynch. Yeah, tough. It literally takes the whole team to tackle him. I don't have to deal with him no more, so hopefully no one comes up like him ... while I'm playing, at least.

A lot of times you just playing football and just reacting, so I don't think a lot of times anything is intentional. But after you get fined, you're kinda like, OK, I don't want to do that again. So sometimes [the rules implemented to make the league safer] have a little effect, but for the most part, I try not to think about it. I just go play because I don't want it to change the way I play or slow me down in any way.

Have you ever ate at Johnnie's Pastrami down the street? I have a ton of favorite places in L.A., but that's good. Just made me think about it 'cause I passed it on my way here.

One of them is just to get double-digit sacks. One of my short-term goals, which will be this season, depending on if I'm playing defensive end or linebacker. That's the only thing. And just win another Super Bowl. That was one of the best experiences I ever had. So win another Super Bowl, especially if I could win another Super Bowl with the Rams, that would be the ultimate goal.

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