Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald won two defensive player of the year awards while playing in Wade Phillips’ defense, but any bid for No. 3 will take place with a new coordinator in place.
Brandon Staley has replaced Phillips as the man in charge of the Rams Defense this season and Donald is familiarizing himself with the scheme in person after working remotely this offseason. He said he and Staley spoke often about how to “put me in good positions” and now he’s figuring out how to put more of himself into the defense.
“Just being here, being able to walk-thru the defense and actually be on the grass, getting a little feel for how it’s going be and how I can play in it and put my own swag and own style to it, so I can be successful in the defense,” Donald said in a Wednesday video conference. “The first day, you’re out there, there’s different things that are kind of rocky, the next day you feel a lot more clean, a little bit more of an understanding of how I have to play things. Like I said, the same way, I can put my own little twist to it, but not do it to the point where I’m messing up the defense. Each day is going to keep getting better. We’ve got good things going in that’s not just going to help me, but help a lot of guys around us. I’m definitely excited about it.”
The Rams said goodbye to players like Dante Fowler and Cory Littleton on defense this offseason, which will open up chances for others to step up around Donald this season. If that can happen while Donald finds ways to employ his swag, the defense should look OK in Staley’s first year.