Steelers Taking Extra Steps to Prepare for Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald is a name everyone knows. The head of the LA Rams' defensive line, former Defensive Player of the Year and someone many claim as the best player in the NFL. In Pittsburgh, he's the first name mentioned in Week 10, starting with Mike Tomlin during his Tuesday press conference.
"Obviously any discussions starts with minimizing Aaron Donald and the ways that he can control and dominate a game," Tomlin told the media.
His former teammate, Mark Barron, described defending him as, "one of those things that at some point in the game, Aaron Donald is going to make a play, you just got to kind of try to limit that."
Like every team in the league, the Steelers are making adjustments to prepare for Donald. Matt Feiler announced on Friday that he'll make the move to left guard and Chuk Okorafor confirmed he's been taking first-team reps at right tackle during practice.
The change doesn't come with concern from either of the linemen. Okorafor's natural position is right tackle, and Feiler has been a utility player for most of his career before coming to Pittsburgh.
"Just switching from right side to left side, the footwork's a little bit different," Feiler explained about the change. "And I just gotta flip everything that I know from the right side to the left side in my head."
Although no one is saying it, it's an obvious switch as for why. Aaron Donald will play both the inside and outside and the Steelers will need big bodies throughout the offensive line.
Tough decision to pull B.J. Finney, but if the belief is Feiler is a better option at guard, there's no hesitation to make the switch. Donald's ability to move throughout the inside poses a challenge for the middle of the offensive line. The Steelers need a group effort to stop him, and that means Feiler moving to guard.
"He moves around a lot," David DeCastro described facing Donald They do a good job, they know everyone's trying to game plan against him and try to put him in one spot. So, they move him around quite a bit, and there's only so many ways you can block things and they do a good job of getting him in one-on-one matchups which you know he excels at obviously, with his ability. It's just kind of a team effort kind of thing, hopefully get out of some passing situations, be able to run the ball efficiently - it's the same broken record but it means a lot this week."
Donald is a no brainer to focus on when preparing for the Rams. His 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles have come from all over the field. As the Steelers move pieces to combat the ability of the NFL's top defender, they're aware of the effort it's going to take, and just what type of player they're squaring off against.
"It's a team job that's for sure," DeCastro said. "We'll have our chance, he moves around quite a bit, everyone knows about Aaron Donald I don't need to speak his resume - tremendous athlete, smart player, he just got the whole package."