LOS ANGELES — Rams superstar Aaron Donald is the kind of player who can single-handedly destroy an offensive game plan.
The Bengals’ offensive coaches and quarterback Joe Burrow are likely spending most of their days and even long into the night thinking of ways to try to keep him from blowing up the line of scrimmage and wrecking plays before they even have the chance to start.
Former NFL star and college football Hall of Famer Joe Theismann, who went 1-1 in two Super Bowl appearances with Washington, said Burrow should be focused on other things leading up to the biggest game of his career.
“The key word is trust,” Theismann said Wednesday. “(Donald) is for the offensive line to worry about. You have to trust them to do their job.”
It’s certainly not an easy task. So what exactly is the best way for the offensive line to handle such a destructive force?
A few former NFL offensive linemen were also hanging out at Super Bowl radio row and offered their opinions, though the expressions on their face at just hearing Donald’s name spoke volumes.
He apparently gives even offensive linemen who have been retired for years difficulty sleeping.
Former first-round pick Kyle Turley said the obvious answer would be to just try to cut-block Donald as much as possible.
“But he’s the kind of guy that will just jump right over you if you try that, so that wouldn’t work,” he said. “These offensive linemen have those big strong arms. They’ve got to start using them. Get those hands on him and keep him in front. Let him do all that spinning and twisting, but you better come with them dogs. You have to fight. It’s a battle. It’s a war.”
Another former first-rounder, Super Bowl champion Aaron Taylor, believes the key is not backing down.
“Well, you better buckle up. Let’s start with that,” he said. “Be disciplined in your footwork and your hand placement, and you can’t be scared.”
Taylor said football is a game you can’t play scared or slow. “Where I see a lot of guys get in trouble with him is they start to compromise because they are afraid of what he might be able to do,” he said. “The guys who do best aren’t intimidated. They’ve got a plan and stick with it, no matter what, which is easier said than done when No. 99 is lined up over you.”
Independent of each other, both players made the same comparison when asked who Donald reminded them of from their playing days: Hall of Famer John Randle.
Donald is on that same path.
Warm up the bus
The Rams have decided to move Thursday’s practice away from their team headquarters and will instead conduct their most intense session of the week at the Rose Bowl.
Coach Sean McVay said the move was because of anticipated high winds in the vicinity of their facility.
He said it would be helpful to practice in the elements if the game weren’t going to be played in a covered stadium, but makes no sense ahead of the game at SoFi.
One potentially significant injury update was that running back Darrell Henderson, who has been nursing a knee injury for more than a month, is expected to play.
McVay said the plan will be to go with the hot hand between Henderson, Sony Michel and Cam Akers.
No ordinary Joe
The only quarterbacks to ever win a consensus college football national title and a Super Bowl have been Joe Namath and Joe Montana, two Hall of Famers.
Joe Burrow could join that list on Sunday, though he would be the only one who also has a Heisman Trophy.