THOUSANDS of OAKS – Aaron Donald has always set an example, quietly showing the rest of the Rams how to train, practice and compete, even if few have ever done it at his level.
But teammates are seeing something different from All-Pro defensive tactics in the week leading up to Sunday’s NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium.
Better yet, they’re hearing something different.
Aaron Donald is leading by talking.
“And when he spoke, everyone listened,” said Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. “Old EF Hutton Trade.”
Morris and the Rams players say that Donald is stepping up to deliver motivational messages at the end of the practice period. Talk to people he doesn’t usually get along with. Transmit his sense of urgency to the rest of the team.
Donald said one reason for the change was that Von Miller, the outside winger bought in November to complete the dynamic passing duo, urged him to capitalize on his stature in football by speak out more.
“One thing that Von has challenged me with a lot is singing more. Talk to the boys, let them hear my voice,” Donald said Thursday.
For no other reason Donald finds it harder to keep quiet than he does now.
The NFC title game that gave Donald a win after his return to the Super Bowl and a second win to claim the championship passed him when the Rams lost to the New England Patriots, 13-3, after the 2018 season.
At 30, with three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, a Rams record seven first team All-Pro titles and a Rams record 98 post-1982 regular seasons, Donald is not There are many other things to do.
“I know what it feels like to be in it (the Super Bowl). I don’t know what it’s like to win,” said Donald. “The only thing I’m missing now is to be a world champion.
“But to get there, we have to win this week.”
If the fourth-seeded Rams beat 49 sixth-seeded players, they will face either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on February 13 at home at SoFi Stadium.
The other eleven current Rams that were in the 2018 pool fell short in the short term. As Donald pointed out, left-hander Andrew Whitworth, who is on that team, and quarterback Matthew Stafford, who joins the Rams in 2021, have been in the NFL longer than he is and have yet to win the Super Bowl. The same goes for longtime LA player Johnny Hekker and safety Eric Weddle.
However, especially Donald, whose Super Bowl mission seems to have become the driving force for the team.
Miller, who was the MVP of the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers after the 2015 season, said he wants to help Donald get that experience.
“I wanted to complete the checklist for him,” Miller said Wednesday. “Selfish, that’s what I want. I want to be the person who says, ‘Man, I helped AD win a Super Bowl.
“We wanted it for him. The whole team wants that for him. We will do everything we can to get the job done. ”
Morris, hired in 2021, recalls watching the Rams lose to the Green Bay Packers in a group stage playoff last season.
“I remember watching Aaron Donald’s face, because they kept showing him on television, and I just looked into his eyes and felt pain and felt that pain,” Morris said. “The first thing I said to him when I got here was ‘I’m going to do everything I can to help you win the championship’.
Morris says there’s a reason teammates rally around Donald.
“He is a humble man. He’s a great teammate to his boys. He does things the right way, the way he trains,” Morris said. “We love him. It’s just, maniac, we love him.”
Donald says he appreciates hearing that.
The 49ers are not so kind. They’ve done a good job of letting Donald down lately, keeping him in a Jimmy Garoppolo midfield bag for four meetings in 2020 and 2021 while extending their winning streak against the Rams to six games. The Rams’ most recent loss in what was perhaps the heaviest of all, San Francisco overcame a 17-0 deficit to win, 27-24, in extra time at SoFi Stadium on May 9. first.
Donald is determined that won’t happen again.
“My thinking is it’s not going to be that we lose this game,” he told reporters on Thursday. “We have to play in four quarters, and we have to find a way to finish, and I know we’ll do it.”
Donald’s message to his teammates may be similar.
Out of respect for his teammates, Morris recalls seeing Ramsey sprint to join a pre-workout chat when he saw Donald talking to the team.
Ramsey said Donald is talking about keeping the team’s focus on the Super Bowl goal and doing everything he can to get there.
“It makes a little more sense when AD does things like that,” Ramsey said.
The Rams’ injury report shows second-string midfielder John Wolford missed Thursday’s training session due to illness. The team said he has not yet tested positive for COVID-19. Left-hander Andrew Whitworth (knee) is back in full training, while sub Joe Noteboom (chest) is sidelined. Safety Taylor Rapp (concussion) listed as limited in practice for the second day in a row. Van Jefferson (knee) has improved from DNP to limited, and Greg Gaines (toe) nose strike is back in full training. … 49ers left-hander Trent Williams (ankle) missed practice again on Thursday, while running back to Elijah Mitchell (knee) was limited after sitting out on Wednesday. … Raheem Morris says full-back Ernest Jones (ankle) has a chance to come off the bench injured after four weeks, but may not be able to play enough against the 49ers to act as a defensive signal caller. Linebacker Troy Reeder handled that assignment with Jones and safely exited Jordan Fuller.
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/27/rams-aaron-donald-becomes-the-teams-super-motivator/ Rams’ Aaron Donald becomes the team’s super force – San Bernardino Sun