GREEN BAY — Matt LaFleur isn’t taking any chances when it comes to Aaron Donald.
The Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman sat out practice Thursday with an ankle injury and hasn’t played since Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs. But while LaFleur is preparing for the Green Bay Packers to face the Rams on Monday night, he’s making a game plan just as Donald will be on the floor.
“I assume (he’s going to play),” the Packers coach said Thursday. “I think we’ll find out in the game, I don’t know. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. But we’d be fools if we didn’t prepare for someone like that.”
Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters this week that Donald has not been suspended for the season despite the team’s 4-9 record and his absence for the past two games. With Donald’s playing time still a possibility, the Packers are essentially assembling two playbooks: one on whether Donald is on the floor and one in case he doesn’t.
“He’s a guy who absolutely 100 percent impacts the game,” LaFleur said. “Generation player, first Hall of Famer, one of the best ever. So I think you always have to have a plan for him. How many games he plays, you know, if he doesn’t play, then you There must be a contingency plan if he is not available.
“Certainly, I think, the last couple of years against his challenge, he’s definitely going to take some of the plays that you want to have in the game plan and he just wipes them out. If you can’t protect or maybe at the point of attack with some running In action, he’s a big problem. He’s a monster to prepare for.”
Aaron Rodgers has gone 3-1 against Donald four times. In those four games, Donald has 11 tackles, 2 sacks and 5 QB hits. Rodgers said that he has encountered not many stars like Donald, and even fewer can play his position.
“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Rodgers said. “He’s one of the top big men in the league. Definitely top three in my generation, he’s a generational player, he can dominate any generation of football. He’s a game breaker.
“Very few players in the league think the plan is built around stopping a player or trying to minimize a player’s impact … but when it’s an inside rusher, that’s why it’s so Rare…not many guys can dominate like he has done over the years.”
Whether Donald will play Monday remains undecided. The Rams still have two more days of practice in an attempt to get Donald on the court to test his ankle.
David Bakhtiari does not train on Thursday
The one player they most likely won’t have to help stop Donald is left tackle David Bakhtiari, who continues to recover from an appendectomy on Dec. 2. He didn’t play in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.
He was in the building during Thursday’s practice, but he didn’t participate. The timetable for recovery and return to normal activities after an appendectomy can vary from patient to patient, although most medical experts recommend about 4 weeks of vigorous exercise. It’s a timeline that LaFleur admits has to be learned on the go.
“It’s the first time I’ve had a player in that situation, at least this season,” LaFleur said Thursday. “So we’re going to see how he progresses throughout the week. Obviously, he’s a guy who doesn’t need a lot of time on the floor to play, so if he has the ability to do that, you know, maybe the chances are not Big, but we’ll see.”
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Offensive lineman Elgerton Jenkins (knee) was the only Packers player not to play Thursday. Running back Aaron Jones (ankle) is a limited player. All other players are full participants.
The Rams had six players miss practice, including Donald. Center Brian Allen (knee), defensive tackle Marquise Copeland (ankle), linebacker Travon Howard (hip), defensive back David Long Jr. (groin) and quarterback John Wolford (groin) neck) were blocked and did not participate.
Linebacker Ernest Jones (wrist), linebacker Terrell Lewis (back) and defensive back Robert Rochelle (wrist) are limited players for the Rams.