AYODELE: What's In A Number?

IRVING, Tex. - When linebacker Al Singleton and the Cowboys parted ways in the offseason, fellow linebacker Akin Ayodele had mixed emotions.

In one season together in Dallas, the two had become friends, in addition to their obvious status as teammates sharing the same position. To that end, Ayodele was disappointed Singleton no longer would be around.

But there was a silver lining for Ayodele: Singleton's departure meant jersey No. 51 was available, and Ayodele moved quickly to secure the jersey after spending last season wearing No. 50.

Ayodele said there's no magic to the number — it's just the number he wore when he broke in to the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and there's a comfort level that goes along with it.

"I just got used to it, that's all," he said. "I wore No. 13 in college (at Purdue) — lucky No. 13. Since linebackers can't wear numbers in the teens in the NFL, they gave me 51 and I liked it. When I got here, Al had it, and I wasn't going to buy it from him, so I waited."

The other number that concerns Ayodele at the moment is two — that's the number of members of his family he hopes are on the Dallas roster when the season starts; his brother, Remi (6-foot-2, 300), is playing in NFL Europe in hopes of earning a spot on the team.

"We've never been on the same team before," Ayodele said. "He's four years younger than I am, so we didn't play together in high school (or college — Remi went to Oklahoma). I'm hoping he can take care of business and make the team. That's something we've talked about with my mom — we'd like to get on the field at the same time, to get a picture together."

The odds aren't in Remi's favor, since the Cowboys have veteran Jason Ferguson entrenched as the starter at the position.

Montavious Stanley has made significant strides in his pursuit of the backup spot, and defensive ends Jay Ratliff and Chris Canty can slide inside in obvious passing situations.

Nonetheless, Akin Ayodele holds firm to his belief that his brother can crack the rotation.

"I've got a lot of faith in him," he said. "No matter what, I'm always going to roll with my brother. He's going to surprise some people — he can really play."

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