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For the last seven seasons, Aaron Donald has been a thorn in the side of just about every offensive lineman he’s gone up against. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has shown no signs of slowing down over the course of his career, and that’s not expected to change this season in his first campaign as a 30-year-old.
Sure, there are more aches and pains, but he still feels the same as he always does heading into the season. In fact, he even believes he’s a little bit smarter on the field, which is a scary thought for opposing linemen.
“I feel the same. I feel good. Man, I feel strong. I feel like I look good,” he said, eliciting a laugh from reporters. “I feel fast. I feel explosive. If anything, I feel a little smarter out there, as far as understanding certain things to play a little faster. So, I feel good, man. It’s just the aches and pains at times last a little longer. So that’s it. That’s it.”
Donald elaborated a bit on the aches and pains lingering, such as a stubbed toe not healing as quickly as it might’ve in his 20s.
“Yeah, I might stub my toe, it ain’t gonna be gone the next day. It might linger three, four days now. So, yeah, I feel all that,” he said, laughing.
Donald carries some added motivation into this season, too, after welcoming a baby boy to the family recently.
“I’ve been getting good sleep,” he said. “I had my son, so I have a little bit more motivation this year. So, adding to the family so I’m excited and blessed about that.”
Donald already had two kids before welcoming Aaric – which is a unique spelling that incorporates his name (Aaron) and his wife’s name (Erica) – to the world, so he knows what comes with being a father. And for Donald, fatherhood is everything.
“That’s everything to me. That’s first,” he said. “That comes before anything – being able to be there for my kids, provide for my kids, having them in my life, being a real dad – not just be able to provide financially, but being in their lives to teach him good, bad, wrong, all types of things. So, I enjoy being a dad.”
It’s scary to think that Donald could be even more motivated and smarter on the field, but we should expect nothing less from the all-world pass rusher. He’s in a world of his own as a defensive lineman.