The Redskins' offensive line will have its hands full Sunday, as an already impressive Rams defense will add defensive lineman Aaron Donald, returning after prolonged contract negotiations.
In Week 1, the Los Angeles Rams' defense held the Indianapolis Colts to just nine points.
Aaron Donald, one of the most ferocious defensive lineman in the league, watched the game play out from the sideline.
Granted, the Colts had their own issues at quarterback (and at almost every other facet of the game), but keeping any NFL team under two scores is never an easy feat. The Rams recorded two interceptions returned for touchdowns, a safety, a recovered fumble and four sacks.
Heading into Week 2, Donald has returned to a defense already on a roll, just in time for a meeting with the Washington Redskins.
"Aaron, as we've all documented and talked about, is one of the best interior lineman, both against the run and the pass, in the NFL and he's going to be a great challenge for us," Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "I do feel that every week when you look at the NFL schedule, you can name a player on the other side of the ball who's dominant – who's a game changing player – and Aaron's no different."
In three seasons, Donald has been named to the Pro Bowl three times. His 28 career sacks and 164 total tackles speak as to why he decided to sit out the 2017 debut. Still under his rookie contract, Donald is still seeking a bigger paycheck, rumored to be the largest for a defensive player in the league. He sat out as long as possible, but in Week 2 he will be forced to return to avoid any penalty while contract negotiations continue.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Rams Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
Cousins, who saw a fairly stout defense in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, acknowledged that moving the offense down the field will only get more difficult with Donald on the field.
"He's quick-twitch. He's sudden. He uses leverage and power," Cousins said. "Football is a game of leverage and power and he knows how to use it and get every ounce of his power and drive where he needs it to create havoc in the backfield."
The fourth-year product out of Pittsburgh will likely come at the Redskins' offense with a vengeance, intent on proving himself worthy of a new contract. Rams' head coach Sean McVay will be one of those Donald will have to impress.
McVay, who spent three seasons as Washington's offensive coordinator, said he has liked what he has seen for Donald so far. Meanwhile, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden praised the level of intensity with which Donald plays, adding that he might just know every trick in the book.
"He's got every move you want — he can power rush you, he can spin you, he can rip you, he gets off the snap with great tempo and he's fast," Gruden said, "so it will be a great challenge."
Washington's offensive line, which hopes to bounce back after a tough showing against the Eagles, will have to adjust Donald's return if it wants to keep Cousins upright long enough to complete a pass. Offensive tackle Trent Williams did not seem all that encouraged by Donald's return, but said Sunday's battle in the trenches will just be another day at the office.
"I wish he would have held out another week, but that's the life in the NFL," Williams said. "Nowadays, everybody has these D-lines who are souped up, so we just have to bring our hard hat. It's going to be another tough one."