Rams All-Pro defensive end Aaron Donald returned to the team on Saturday from his extended holdout. Donald and the Rams organization are still locked in negotiations, but the Rams seem to be clearing cap space through contract restructuring. After returning, Donald did not play on Sunday, but made it out to the practice field on Wednesday for his first official practice with the team. After practice, Donald’s coach Sean McVay addressed how well he practiced, looking fast and in-shape despite being away from the team. Without a doubt, Donald’s presence is a huge weight off the shoulders of the organization.
Will Donald play Sunday?
Rumors have been flying around the league about Donald’s status for the Rams game against the Redskins. After practice, McVay said that Donald “took reps as if he’s playing”. Without a doubt, McVay also left the door open for Donald not to play, making no guarantees about his status for the matchup against the rookie head coach’s former team. The Rams are a significantly better team when Donald is on the field, as he is one of, if not the best defensive player in football. It is important to note that if Donald is going to play, McVay confirmed he will start. If Donald is not on the field on the first defensive snap, he will not take the field at all.
Donald also appeared before the media after practice on Wednesday and said that “feels good” and “worked out a lot” in his time away from the team. Without a doubt, he is the type of player to put his work in, Donald will likely acclimate himself to football quickly once again.
Donald’s presence will be felt mightily if he is given the opportunity to play on Sunday. However, all is not lost for the Rams defense if he is forced to wait another week. The Rams defensive front played incredibly well in his absence last week, with Tyrunn Walker stepping up into his starting slot. Additionally, the Rams have are not facing a strong run attack on Sunday in the Redskins, the core of their offense lies within Kirk Cousins and their passing game. As a result of these factors, the Rams will without a doubt still have a chance to be successful this week without Donald.