Aaron Donald is the best football player on the planet. Even in a sport where each position is so highly specialized, Donald has found a way to be a legitimately transcendent talent along the defensive line for the Los Angeles Rams. In turn, Donald has received a number of honors this offseason: He’s one of four players to receive a 99 overall rating on Madden NFL 20, and in the NFL’s list of the top-100 players in the sport as voted on by his peers, Donald came in at No. 1.
Still, Donald is not one to rest on his laurels. While appreciative of all the praise he’s received, Donald knows that all of this positive attention leads to being the focus of offensive gameplans. This, in turn, makes life a whole lot harder for him, which means Donald has to find ways to deal with two or three blockers with some frequency.
The good news for the Rams — and for football fans who enjoy watching defensive linemen blow up whatever opposing offense try to do — is that it’s awfully hard to slow the All-Pro down to the point that his impact won’t be felt on a game. Whether he’s attracting the attention of multiple defenders and freeing things up for his teammates, something Donald admits can be “frustrating,” or getting 1-on-1s and living in backfields, every Rams game doubles as an opportunity for Donald to show why he’s earned all of the praise that comes his way.
Donald spoke to Uproxx Sports as part of his involvement with Pizza Hut’s Hut Hut Win sweepstakes, touching on his work this offseason, his nephew who doubles as a blue chip defensive line recruit in the class of 2021, and why his alma mater and my alma mater should play football against one another every year.
How did it feel to get back on the field on Sunday?
It felt good. It felt good to get them first game jitters out, and get to be out there with your guys playing at 100 percent. We had to find ways to pull out a win, and we did that. So, it felt real good.
The first game of the season is a way to kind of measure what you did during the offseason. For you, what was the big thing that you worked on over the last however many months since the 2018 season ended?
Just trying to find ways to be more productive, trying to find ways that … knowing what the other team is going to give me a lot of different looks with slide protection, double-teams and triple-teams, just trying to find ways to train myself up to still be able to be productive and help my team win. It’s frustrating at times with the attention you’re going to get, but at the end of the day, you get opportunities for other guys around me to have some success. You come to a point where those guys are going keeping having success, and keep having success to the point where they just can’t try to slide their protection every time to me, to the point I’m going to get my opportunities for 1-on-1s. I just gotta there and keep playing and keep working and it’s going to come when it comes.