The Los Angeles Rams received a major boost after defensive tackle Aaron Donald announced that he would be ready to play against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round.
Donald suffered a significant rib injury during the 30-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round. Despite being unable to practice during the week, he was optimistic about his health going into the matchup.
Unfortunately, Donald was hampered by the torn rib cartilage while playing limited snaps during the 32-18 loss to the Packers. His frustration was clear as he shed tears on the sidelines in the closing seconds.
Rams head coach Sean McVay praised Donald for his efforts while acknowledging that the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year was not 100 percent, per ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry:
“I love Aaron Donald, it means a lot to him,” McVay said after the game, “and it’s unfortunate that he wasn’t at full strength today.”
McVay added that Donald was never on any snap count and had the freedom to sub himself in at will:
“Aaron is able to sub himself,” McVay said. “The plan going in was seeing how he feels, he’s kind of always got the ability to tell us how he’s feeling.”
Donald played a season-low 55 percent of defensive snaps versus the Packers. When he was in, he received his usual fair share of double-teams, but the pass rush failed to capitalize after finishing with zero sacks and just one quarterback hit.
The Rams already had their work cut out going against the NFL’s top-scoring offense led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The fact that they failed to generate consistent pressure allowed Rodgers to take full advantage with 296 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Donald finished the 2020 NFL season second in the league in sacks with 13.5 and is a top candidate to receive his third DPOY. Not being able to help out at full capacity versus the Packers when the team needed it most clearly did not sit well with him.
There is no denying Donald’s status as one of the most tenacious and competitive players in the league today. His track record indicates that there is good reason to believe that he will be back even stronger next year.