During the LA Rams 30-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round, defensive tackle Aaron Donald wound up with torn rib cartilage stemming from an attempted sack on quarterback Russell Wilson. It was evident that Donald was in immense pain and the Rams didn’t see much of him during the rest of the win over the Seahawks.
Throughout the week of practice leading up to Saturday’s Green Bay Packers game, Sean McVay didn’t throw out any fluff regarding his best player. He said “the terminator” will be just fine and that he will play on Saturday. That didn’t stop the Rams from playing it safe with Donald as he sat out Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices before being a limited participant on Thursday.
But in today’s 32-18 loss to Green Bay, Donald didn’t see his normal amount of snaps that you’ve come to expect during the first half. He was taken out quite a few times to the point where the game’s sideline reporter asked the team about it during halftime. Their response was that they were not purposely limited number 99’s snap count.
However, in the second half, Donald was out there as often as you’d expect. In an attempt to exploit mismatches on crucial downs, Donald was moved up and down the defensive line. It was fairly apparent that he just wasn’t anywhere close to his normal self. Plenty of spectators voiced their thoughts on the matter via social media:
#Rams move 99 Aaron Donald (rib) all over. Over LG. Over RT on 3rd down for pressure. But he's just going through the motions. Must be in pain with that "damn side" he talked about during my report on The BIG SHOW. @1250AMTheFan— Mike Clemens (@MikeClemensNFL) January 16, 2021
Today has shown me that everyone on the front line for the Rams’ D owes 99 money. He makes so much happen. Aaron Donald being slowed by injury has crushed the effectiveness of the entire Rams’ defensive front.— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) January 16, 2021
As elite as we all know Donald is, is it fair to blame his less-than-stellar health for the defense’s inefficiency in disrupting Aaron Rodgers on any kind of consistent basis? They still employ another double-digit sack guy in Leonard Floyd while Morgan Fox and Michael Brockers also have six and five sacks on the year, respectively. Regardless if true, the Rams sorely needed someone other than Donald to rise above and make something happen.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the cameras showed a teary-eyed Donald on the sideline likely toiling in frustration regarding the injury that kept him from being his true self on Saturday. If there’s one thing for certain, Donald is 100 percent going to bounce back, attack the offseason, and enter the 2021 season on a mission to continue building his Hall of Fame resume.