GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – When you think about the nickname ‘The Terminator’, everyone thinks about Arnold Schwarzenegger standing there, guns blazing, saying “I’ll be back.” Much like that man destroyed everything in his path, Aaron Donald, two-time winner of the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, and aptly nicknamed after Schwarzenegger’s character, is the player that haunts many a coach’s offensive play calling nightmares.
“He’s a freak,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said with a grin to reporters on Tuesday. “He’s a once in a lifetime type of player. I don’t think you truly appreciate him until you have to game plan against him.”
LaFleur would know. He was with the Rams in 2017 when Donald won his first Defensive Player of the Year award.
“This guy is dynamic. We have to be aware of where he ends up and make sure we communicate well and account for him at all times, because he’s a guy that can totally disrupt and impact , have a major impact on a game,” LaFleur said.
Aaron Rodgers, who’s coming off an impressive 16th season in the NFL and looking at locking up his third NFL MVP award, knows that making sure his team does anything and everything to neutralize Donald will be the key to success. But No. 12 pointed out that Donald is not like the usual rushers you get when you look at a defense.
“It’s very rare that you have an impact player that rushes from the inside. Most of the real, real impact players, when it comes to pass rush, are edge rushers. Little different when it comes to 99. ” Rodgers said with an appreciative smile. “He’s a special, special player. Obviously a first round Hall of Famer. Impact player every single year. A guy that you have to game plan for. Have to be aware of where he’s at at all times, Just one of those special talents that we haven’t seen a whole lot in this game in the history of the game. “
Donald has put together another impressive season. 13 and a half sacks, four forced fumbles, a general disruption when it comes to an offensive game plan… something the Packers offensive line knows they’re going to have to try to slow down in this divisional matchup. But the protectors of QB 1 aren’t anything to turn your nose up over, either. They’ve only let Aaron Rodgers get sacked 20 times in the regular season. Center Corey Linsley is the only player on the Packers offensive line that’s played against Donald as a Packers. He isn’t resting on those laurels. There’s a singular focus when it comes to Saturday’s game.
“The lesson is he’s a ridiculously good player,” Linsley said with a chuckle. “Generational talent. He’s a force, he shows up on film all over the place. We gotta be prepared, we gotta be ready to It’s a team effort, I guess, a blocking unit effort Everyone has to know where he is on the field at all times.”
Many wondered if the Terminator would take the field after suffering what looked like a rib injury but Donald put those thoughts to rest immediately.
“My damn side is sore,” Donald said to the laughter of Los Angeles reporter after quite a few questions about the injury. “I’m not gonna talk about my damn side the whole time. I feel good, I feel strong and I’ll be ready come Saturday.”
The Packers kick off with the Rams at Lambeau Field Saturday, January 16 at 3:35 p.m. CT.