II: Aaron Donald on defensive front
The LA Rams defensive line may be young and a bit inexperienced, but this is a group that is clearly missing their emotional and veteran leader, Aaron Donald. Now, it may not seem obvious to many, but Donald has been the backbone of the Rams defensive line of scrimmage for many years.
The LA Rams defense had to perform without Donald for eight games in 2022. While the team struggled to find success last season, the absence of Aaron Donald forced the team to find new and innovative ways to get pressure on the opposing quarterback, and to stuff the run.
Young players like DL Larrell Murchison and OLB Michael Hoecht were surprisingly effective for the LA Rams last season. While they will be challenged to replicate that success this season, they will have the benefit of lining up to All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald. And Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is out to remind everyone in the NFL just how good he is.
Don't forget to have fun
But more than a stoic teammate, Donald is in a unique position to illustrate to his younger teammates that football can be fun too. As offensive linemen double him up, Aaron Donald sets the tone for his teammates. If he is not laughing, nobody is laughing. But if he is busting up, then the entire DL group can smile and chortle too.
The LA Rams defensive linemen embrace the work hard mantra that has come to be known as #DAWGwolk. But all work and no play makes for long grueling practices. Even as the Rams practice for the next preseason game, it's up to Donald to offer a mood lightening joke, or share an encouraging word with a struggling teammate.
We can see that Donald is taking the opportunity to keep it light.
Will the LA Rams be able to see an NFL leading pass rush this season? Perhaps not. But if the Rams get a solid rebound season out of Aaron Donald this year. the chances of the Rams getting to the quarterback go up exponentially. The Rams pass rush will set the tempo for the Rams defense. As long as the Rams have Aaron Donald at the line of scrimmage, the defense has a good chance of making plays.