Donald has a high ankle sprain from the Rams' loss at Kansas City last Sunday, and Los Angeles coach Sean McVay ruled him out Wednesday.
Donald sprained his ankle in the first quarter against the Chiefs, but kept playing on it, McVay said. He won’t need surgery, but his ironman streak will end at 86 consecutive games since the finale of the 2017 regular season.
“That's what makes Aaron, Aaron,” McVay said. “He's unbelievable. To be able to play through that, the toughness, everything that he embodies is what you love.”
Donald has missed only two games in his nine-year NFL career, both in 2017. He sat out the Rams’ season opener on the day after ending his contract holdout, and he sat out the finale to rest for the playoffs.
Donald has five sacks in 11 games this year, the slowest pace of his career, but he remains the anchor of a solid Los Angeles defense that has soundly outperformed its struggling offense all season long.
“So much of it is built around him,” McVay said. “He is truly one of one. You don’t replace anybody like him. Guys will be asked to step up, (and we) have confidence in those guys, but I think Aaron’s resume speaks for itself, the way that he works, the way that he brings others with him, so it’s a huge loss.”
While McVay has repeatedly said he's not ready to shut down all of the Rams' key players for the final weeks of a season that's almost certainly lost, injuries are making the decisions for him. The defending Super Bowl champions (3-8) will attempt to snap a five-game skid against the Seahawks with a severely depleted roster.
Top receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson are out with injuries, along with much of the offensive line. McVay also confirmed Matthew Stafford is highly unlikely to play. Stafford is still in the concussion protocol after missing two of the past three games, although the Rams have yet to confirm whether Stafford ever actually had a concussion.
The coach wouldn't say which quarterback will start or play more against the Seahawks, but he has previously indicated that both could see action in the game, as they did in previous instances without Stafford. Both quarterbacks will be playing behind an offensive line still missing several starters and backups because of injuries.
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Greg Beacham, The Associated Press