Was it bad knees that held back Ayers?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Just how much the Tennessee Titans' underachieving linebackers were at fault for their sluggish play last season is a lingering question.

Certainly they need to be accountable for their lack of production as a unit and didn't play well enough.

But the Titans were a mess at the position, with an illogical benching you can recount here as the symbol of a messy coaching situation.

It always amounts to a disservice to a player when he's more hurt than the team lets on. He gets crushed for under performing when he's taking one for the team by taking the field.

Perhaps Akeem Ayers' flat season last year was largely attributable to not just one knee issue, but two.

Monday, Ayers told John Glennon of The Tennessean he didn't only have the right knee surgery we knew about in January but similar surgery on his other knee six weeks later. Both were issues last year, he said.

"Both of them were damaged, so I had to get both of them cleaned and repaired," Ayers told Glennon. "It started with my right knee and then when I injured the right knee, I started compensating for it a lot and eventually damaged the left knee ...

"It was actually pretty bad even before the season started. I didn't know the severity of the injury until pretty much after the season. I pretty much thought it was soreness or pain that would eventually go away."

If Ayers can get healthy and blossom into a big-time strongside 3-4 linebacker under defensive coordinator Ray Horton and linebacker coach Lou Spanos, the Titans could be in line for major gains on defense.