Steelers' line prepping for familiar face in Aaron Donald
PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin saw plenty of St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald during Donald's spectacular career at Pitt.
Now, the Steelers' offensive line is tasked with stopping one of the NFL's top young talents on Sunday when Pittsburgh (1-1) visits St. Louis (1-1).
Center Cody Wallace and guard Ramon Foster have the primary responsibility in reigning in the 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year, who grew up in an eastern Pittsburgh suburb before four years with the Panthers, where he was honored for his play during his sensational senior season in 2013.
''They've got a lot of good players up front, and it's all about getting off and getting into the backfield,'' Wallace said. ''Donald, he's about as quick as any of them, and he has really good hand usage. Sometimes, he gets into the backfield, and you're wondering how he did it so quickly.''
Donald, the 13th overall pick last year, would be difficult to handle by himself.
But the Rams have five former first-round selections among their defensive line rotation, including all four starters.
Along with left defensive tackle Donald, the Rams have left end Chris Long (second, 2008), right tackle Michael Brockers (14th, 2012) and right end Robert Quinn (14th, 2011). Nick Fairley (13th, 2011) is a top backup.
The other two contributors, ends William Hayes (2008) and Eugene Sims (2010), were taken in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively.
''The best things about the Rams defensive line are that they have a lot of talent, but they also have motors,'' Foster said. ''You put those two things together, along with the fact that they're hungry for stats, then you have a chance to have a really good front four. And that's what they have.''
Foster hasn't watched much Pitt football but quickly became aware of Donald last year. Then again, Donald's nine sacks were kind of hard to ignore.
''After he was an All-American and then got drafted in the first round, I looked him up on YouTube,'' Foster said. ''And he's a really good player, a beast on defense. He's a second-year guy, but he's already among the top D-tackles in the game. You have to give him props.''
Tomlin saw firsthand knowledge of Donald's work ethic from numerous meetings around the practice facility the Steelers share with the Panthers.
''I spent a couple of months here this year (and ran) into him in that parking lot outside as he came in to work at Pitt,'' Tomlin said. ''I think that guy left the Pro Bowl and went straight back to work, but that doesn't surprise me. I've seen him do it over the course of his college career, and the way his professional career is unfolding is not a surprise to those who know him.''
Notes: The Steelers released WR Terry Murphy on Wednesday to make room for RB Le'Veon Bell on the active roster. Murphy played in both games and had one catch for 16 yards. He might be added to the practice squad. . Steelers DT Dan McCullers (knee) and ILB Ryan Shazier (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. . CB Cortez Allen (knee) was a full participant.
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