Look up game wrecker and you'll probably find Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald mauling a quarterback right next to it. There's a reason the man has won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018.
Donald has had a great start to the season, especially last week when he almost single-handedly ended the game against the Buffalo Bills during their late-game drive that led to a win.
Now Donald has to be licking his chops with the Giants on the Rams' schedule this week. And head coach Joe Judge knows that the Rams will be looking to exploit the Giants' shaky offensive line, which includes using Donald in multiple ways.
"Well I’ll say this first off: The thing they’re doing differently this year early is moving him around," he told reporters on Wednesday. "And they use him on all three downs. That’s different than how he’s played in the past. They’re going to find matchups and create ways [for him to produce] so there’s no one player we can set our offensive line [on]. He’s got a tough day ahead. Everyone’s got to be alert to make sure where 99 is on every snap.”
Everyone needs to be alert but C Nick Gates, who will be starting at the position for only the fourth time in his career, on Sunday will be the one mostly dealing with Donald. It's a heavily favored matchup for Donald to have his way with Gates.
Judge, though, is confident that his center -- someone who converted to the position this year -- can handle whatever is coming his way.
"It’s absolutely not an experiment. I think he’s making improvement game by game," Judge said of Gates. "This guy’s made a lot of progress for us on a daily basis in his communication, his understanding of the position, his studying of opponents.”
Donald will obviously test that experiment early.
“The thing that makes this guy so unique, and it’s going to very sound generic, but the effort he plays with is just truly relentless," Judge said. "This guy does things you watch and think, ‘Wow.’ He really will show up and ruin your day.
“Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Judge also touched on several Tennessee Titans testing positive for the coronavirus, which has forced the league to postpone their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He said it hasn't changed anything the Giants are doing at their facility, but has brought to light that the team needs to remain diligent in following the protocols in place.
“We got a lot of confidence in the protocols the league came out with," Judge said. "We’ve been very diligent from the beginning in following them as a team and as coaches have been very committed to following the rules. And that’s not changing anything we’re doing. It just reaffirming we have to stay diligent in the process and making sure we’re following the steps in place.”