Ayers hopes to thwart Bears passing attack

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Ayers hopes to thwart Bears passing attack

Last week when the Colts offense took the field in Nashville, they were greeted by a new look Titans defense. Second year linebacker Akeem Ayers was shifted to defensive end and was on the field almost exclusively in passing situations. Ayers, the team's leading tackler, found himself on the sideline for more than half of the Titans defensive plays.  Through the first seven games this season, Ayers was on the field for over 90 percent of defensive snaps, but a well-rested Ayers proved dominant against the Colts as the former UCLA standout harassed Andrew Luck, racking up seven tackles and a sack. Ayers hopes to give Jay Cutler the same treatment.

Ayers spoke with John Glennon of The Tennessean regarding his new role:

Its something where I feel like I can be a lot more disruptive in pass-rushing situations, just using my instincts and working at it, said Ayers. I feel like I have a good knack for getting to the quarterback because thats what I did in college.

While the Titans defense seems to be on the rise, the Bears defense has taken the league by storm. The Bears are tied for the lead in the NFL with 16 interceptions, with Tim Jennings leading the team with six picks of his own. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hasnt thrown a pick in his last two starts, but the veteran knows he will have to be perfect to keep that streak going against the Bears. Hasselbeck shared his thoughts with Tennessean reporter Jim Wyatt.

You can tell when they play an offense, they understand the concepts of what the offense is trying to do and also the timing that theyre trying to do it, Hasselbeck said. So its all got to line up perfectly for us to take that opportunity, take that shot or whatever.

Fire draft two Charlotte 49ers to close out draft

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USA TODAY

Fire draft two Charlotte 49ers to close out draft

The Chicago Fire drafted three players in the first two rounds of the MLS draft on Friday and added another two players in the draft's final two rounds on Tuesday.

The Fire selected two players out of Charlotte in the final two rounds. Midfielder Brandt Bronico went with the third pick in the third round, No. 47 overall, and defender Matej Dekovic was picked with the third pick in the fourth round, No. 69 overall.

Bronico was a key cog all four years at Charlotte. He was a three-time First-Team Conference USA selection and Conference USA Player of the Year as a senior. He totaled 25 goals and 23 assists in four years, including nine goals and five assists in 18 matches as a senior. He had eight goals and 10 assists as a junior.

Bronico also scored an eye-catching goal on the final day of the MLS Combine.

Dekovic is a defender born in Zagreb, Croatia. He was a First-Team Conference USA pick this fall while playing at left back. The Fire don't have much depth currently at outside back, but Dekovic's status as an international player will give him an uphill battle to make the team.

The Fire open preseason camp in six days on Monday, Jan. 23.

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech fires a 110 mph max velocity throw

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Michael Kopech fires a 110 mph max velocity throw

It's no secret that White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech throws hard.

Acquired in the trade that sent ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox, Kopech was clocked throwing a pitch 105 mph last July while pitching for the Salem Red Sox.

But that's nothing compared to what the No. 4 right-handed pitching prospect in baseball did on Tuesday.

Granted, Kopech was throwing an underload baseball (which he confirmed in a response to the original tweet), but 110 mph is 110 mph.

The White Sox would settle for a few miles per hour less on the mound, but either way it looks like they've got a good one.