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From the Plains to the pros: Daren Bates

Editor's note: Auburn has a rich history of sending players to the NFL. Starting today, beat writer Ryan Black takes a look at each former Tiger that finds himself on an NFL roster (or should be once free agency and training camps shake out). The series will begin with those who have already been in the league for more than one season and conclude with the latest crop of players to land in the NFL, either through the draft or as an undrafted free agent.

Daren Bates, St. Louis Rams

Position: Linebacker

Drafted: Undrafted in 2013; signed by Rams as an undrafted free agent and earned a spot on 53-man roster last September

Career stats (through one season): Five tackles, fumble recovery (returned fumble 11 yards for a touchdown versus Houston)

2014 outlook: Bates spent his first year in the NFL playing almost exclusively on special teams. That appears to be his role for the second straight season, as the St. Louis starting linebackers are expected to be James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar. But Bates can take solace in the fact that his spot on the roster looks to be fairly safe, as every team needs a special teams ace or two. It's also possible he could see a few snaps at linebacker as a backup.

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