The best defender on the Los Angeles Rams, Aaron Donald, reported to the team just before Week 1 to end his offseason holdout. He will see his first game action in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins.
Aaron Donald is one of the best overall defensive players in the NFL. The former first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft quickly developed into a terrific force in the middle of the Rams defense. Over the course of his three seasons in the NFL, Donald has put up unbelievable numbers. He has totaled 28 career sacks despite playing an interior position. He has succeed in every facet of the game and inspires fear in his opponents.
With that said, the Rams had a tough situation this offseason that saw their top defender hold out for all of the team’s activities. Donald, the three time Pro Bowler, rightfully wanted a lucrative long term extension, but negotiations with the Rams didn’t go anywhere. Going into the season opener, Donald still hadn’t reported to the team, and a season long holdout was a possibility. However, he returned just before Week 1 and is getting ready to see his first aciton during Week 2 of the season.
This comes at the worst time possible for the Redskins. It had momentarily looked like they would avoid facing Donald which would be hugely beneficial. Instead, they Donald appears to be coming back to face Washington’s shaky offensive line.
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In the first contest of the NFL season, the Redskins line looked absolutely awful. Morgan Moses had a very tough time at right tackle, and the interior wasn’t much better. Trent Williams was the only consistently good player, and the team needs the rest of their strong players to step up. Doing that against Donald could be an issue.
Donald has a new position as a 3-4 end in Wade Phillips’ defense. After formerly being a tackle in the team’s 4-3 defense, Donald will get more of a chance to take on weak points on the edge. The Rams could opt to play Donald between Moses and Brandon Scherff, who had issues against the Eagles, and that could make life difficult for the Redskins. They will have to scheme well enough to avoid Donald in the run and double team him as best as they can in the passing game.
The Redskins essentially got unlucky that Donald came back when he did. At the same time, they were likely prepared to face him. There is a chance that Donald may not be in great football shape after his holdout, so maybe they will actually get him at the right time. Still, the Redskins would rather have faced the Rams while Donald was still holding out. There’s nothing they can do at this point, and it will be interesting to see the game plan they have in place to stop him.