When it comes to Aaron Donald, the battle can be over before it even begins.
Donald, the Rams’ five-time all-pro defensive tackle, comes to town Sunday, and Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson said whoever winds up playing right guard for the Eagles will not only have their hands full during the game ... but before it.
“I personally think the best part of his game is before he even plays people,” Jackson said. “They’re so shook before they even play him. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, I have to stop this, I have to stop that.’ So then they start thinking about a bunch of things and he goes and just does what he’s best at.”
Donald’s 73 sacks are most in NFL history by a defensive tackle in his first seven seasons, three more than Hall of Famer John Randle.
He’s as close to unstoppable as anybody in the game and by the time all is said and done will probably go down as the greatest interior pass rusher in NFL history.
“He does everything well, and that’s why I’m sitting here this week of practice trying to give our guards some help as far as pass rush goes," Jackson said. "Because I fancy myself a good pass rusher. So I go out there and do some things I see that he does, try to imitate it best I can, then maybe it’ll help them.”
Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox and Donald didn’t overlap at Pitt, but Donald was often back on campus working out while Maddox was still at school, so he’s the legendary work ethic that’s made Donald a future Hall of Famer.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work as hard as him,” he said. “Every day he’s working out 24/7, literally. I’d be like ‘Man, do you ever take a break?’ He’d be like ‘Nah, I gotta be great.’ He’s just always working out. It’s fun to watch him play coming from Pitt. I used to watch him before I got there. I used to see him tackle the quarterback and the running back at the same time and I used to be like ‘How the heck he do that?’”
Whoever the Eagles start at right guard, this is quite a potential mismatch.
If Doug Pederson and Jeff Stoutland stick with Nate Herbig, it’ll be his second career start after an uneven debut Sunday. Matt Pryor has made one start - in the playoff loss to Seattle - and Jack Driscoll made his first career start at right tackle Sunday. Jamon Brown has 47 career starts but just joined the team this week.
And where Wade Phillips generally left Donald in one spot, new Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley seems to like moving Donald around, so Isaac Seumalo and Jason Kelce will also be challenged Sunday.
Carson Wentz was sacked eight times Sunday and now the task to protect him gets even harder.
“Aaron Donald, he's a monster,” Wentz said. “Everyone knows it. Everyone around the league knows the type of player he is and how he can really disrupt an offensive game plan. He’s somebody we’ve got to always know where he is. But at the same time, we have to come out and not play afraid or not play timid. But he's a guy we definitely take accountability for where he's at at all times. He’s a game-wrecker if you let it happen.”
Hey Brandon Brooks ... any chance you can be ready by Sunday?