The Rams have yet to definitively say that defensive tackle Aaron Donald will play on Sunday against Washington. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips made it fairly clear that Donald will indeed go.
Asked by reporters how much he plans to play Donald, whose holdout ended five days ago, Phillips didn’t say, “It hasn’t been decided that he’ll play” or anything like that. Instead, the answer implies clearly that Phillips expects to see him on the field.
“It’s more of a pitch count I think,” Phillips said. “But it’s a number of plays and we’ll see how he is. He looked to be in good shape. You know, football shape and shape are two different things because you’re carrying a lot more weight with pads on and so forth. But he doesn’t seem to be bothered too much by the reps we’re giving him in practice. It’s not wearing him out, so we’ll make sure in the ball game that we watch him.”
Phillips isn’t sweating the fact that Donald will be transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense.
“When you have a great player, I think it’s really not the coaching, I’m sorry to say,” Phillips said. “I think coaching makes a difference, I do think coaching — I wouldn’t be in coaching if I didn’t think it makes a difference and I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think we could help good players or even great players get better, so that’s what we try to do. But once you get that caliber of a player, you just have to scheme things where you get him one-on-one as much as you can, things like that. . . .
“When he goes in there, we tell him, ‘Go.’ It’s not real complicated for him. . . . [H]e knows the defense pretty well already. There’s a few things that he had to clean up, but a lot of his play is one-on-one, beat the guy in front of you.”
That’s something Donald can do as well as anyone who has played the position since Warren Sapp. And it sure seems like Donald will be doing it on Sunday, regardless of whether he gets a new contract before then.