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Chiseled Aaron Donald is virtually fit for Rams' season

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

LOS ANGELES -- A pandemic that is preventing NFL players from congregating and working out at team facilities is not slowing down Aaron Donald.

The Los Angeles Rams' star defensive tackle, one of the league's most fit and physically shredded players, appeared to be in top condition Thursday during a videoconference with reporters. As if to leave no doubt, he sat before a large background photo that showed him shirtless and in full flex mode.

"I just got to show you I'm still working, still grinding," he said, laughing.

Donald spoke from hometown Pittsburgh, where is waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced teams to adopt virtual offseason programs and has also put the status of training camps and the season in the doubt.

During the offseason, Donald typically would work out at the "Aaron Donald Football Performance Center." That is the name of the gleaming ground floor on the University of Pittsburgh side of a facility it shares with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

But with the weight room closed, Donald works out with his nephew three times a week in "The Dungeon." That is the nickname of the basement gym his father, Archie, constructed piecemeal at the family home when Aaron was a child. Family members moved out of the home years ago, but Aaron demanded they hold on to the property for the gym and the memories.

 

"Just back to where it all started," said Donald, who signed a $135-million extension in 2018. "If anything, that just pushes you a little bit more, motivates you a little bit more because you understand that where it all started at to get where I'm at today."

Donald, who turns 29 on Saturday, is the cornerstone for a Rams defense that is being remade under new coordinator Brandon Staley.

"I'm working so I'm going to get me the upper hand."

The Rams cut or did not re-sign multiple defensive players from a team that finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs last season. Edge rusher Dante Fowler, linebacker Cory Littleton and slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman signed with other teams. Linebacker Clay Matthews remains a free agent.

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