Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury. Due to the Monday Night Football schedule, neither the Rams nor the Green Bay Packers had to release an injury report going into Thursday of this week, when they’ll be facing off against each other.
In the pre-practice presser on Thursday, after discussing how Romeo Doubs’ return will give the Packers a fully healthy receiver unit since Week 2, Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur joked that the team would be running a five-wide offense this week. When a beat reporter stated that you can run personnel like that when Donald isn’t going to play, LaFleur chirped back, “I’m assuming otherwise.”
This sparked a quote from LaFleur explaining how Donald impacts the team’s gameplan and why the team is acting like he will play this week:
“I think a primetime game, I don’t know, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. We’d be fools not to prepare for a guy like that. He is a guy that absolutely, 100 percent, impacts the game. Generational player, first-ballot Hall of Famer, one of the best to ever play the game.
I think you always have to have a plan for him. How much he plays, if he doesn’t play, then you gotta have a contingency plan for if he’s not in there. Just the challenge of going against him over the last couple of years, he definitely takes some plays that you’d like to have in the gameplan and it wipes them out.”
This isn’t the first time that LaFleur has speculated on the participation of a player before injury reports have even been released. Going into the Chicago Bears game before the Packers’ bye week, LaFleur let it be known that the team was preparing as if quarterback Justin Fields, who at the time was dealing with a shoulder injury, was going to be the starting quarterback. Fields had missed the prior game due to his shoulder injury.
Now, preparing to stop someone and actually stopping the player are two different boxes to check. Despite the Packers preparing for Fields, the quarterback still cracked over 300 total yards of offense including a 55-yard rushing touchdown.
Hopefully, Green Bay’s offensive line has more success against Donald this week than the defense had against Fields two weeks ago. LaFleur already called left tackle David Bakhtiari “a longshot” to play against the Rams following his emergency appendectomy, so the Packers are expected to be down at least one offensive lineman already.
Green Bay opened up as eight-point favorites in this matchup but the line has already dropped down to the Packers only being seven-point favorites.