Sun, 04 Dec 2022

As Usual, Cardinals Have Aaron Donald On Mind For Rams Game

Arizona Cardinals
25 Sep 2022, 05:03 GMT+10

Pugh, Hudson, Hernandez ready to battle best defensive player in NFLKevin Parrish Jr.

Justin Pugh has years of history with Aaron Donald, dating back to college.

The offensive and defensive linemen often battled during their University of Syracuse and Pittsburgh football rivalry. That has not changed in the NFL with the veterans in the same division requiring a matchup twice per year.

Another chapter of a new season between them begins on Sunday when the Cardinals (1-1) host the Rams (1-1) in Week 3 at State Farm Stadium. Pugh knows said he knows what awaits.

"He's the Lawrence Taylor of our generation," Pugh said. "He's got the strength of defensive tackles and speed of edge rushers. The whole thing revolves around him; the defense goes as he goes. You have to bring your A-game."

Donald is already one of the greatest defensive players in the NFL with three Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight Pro Bowl selections in nine seasons, and seven first-team All-Pro honors.

The Cardinals' pass protection held Donald to his lowest pass-rush Pro Football Focus Grade ever last season in Week 4 but in the next two encounters (Week 14 and an NFC Wild Card meeting), Donald had his way: 3.5 sacks and four quarterback hits in those games.

"He's an unstoppable force," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "You have to make sure he doesn't completely wreck the game. But I like the group we have. The guys communicate well and play with calmness when they're out together."

Last week against the Raiders, the offensive line allowed a quarterback pressure rate of just 1.9%, fourth-best in the NFL. Pugh and Will Hernandez, the starting left and right guards respectively, will block Donald on Sunday. Both linemen have been solid thus far in 2022. Quarterback Kyler Murray was sacked just once on 49 pass attempts in their first game together in Week 2.

Now it's about having the same success against Donald on Sunday.

"He's somebody we want to contain," Hernandez said, "and make him a nonfactor in this game."

"He's the key to stopping them," Pugh said. "We have to throw bodies at him. It will take a group effort."

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