Aaron Donald hurt his ribs in the Los Angeles Rams' first playoff game last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Postgame medical examination showed Donald suffered torn rib cartilage. I am no doctor but torn anything does not sound optimal for a professional football player, much less one who spends all of his time using his core to displace various offensive linemen.
But because Donald is an alien sent from another planet to play this game, he still suited up for the Rams' divisional round game against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. But it was obvious in the early going that Donald isn't anywhere near healthy. To provide the breathtaking analysis you come to this site for: that is very bad for the Rams.
Donald played only 5 of 11 snaps on Green Bay's first drive and wasn't on the field for a big third and goal. Los Angeles still stifled Aaron Rodgers on that particular drive, but Donald's absence has been felt as the Packers are moving the ball effectively on the ground. They're still throwing double teams at the All-Pro defensive tackle, but through two drives the Packers had 61 yards on the ground. For comparison, the Seahawks had 16 rushing yards through two drives last weekend. It looks like it takes a monumental effort for Donald to even get into his stance.
The below play demonstrates this all fairly well. Donald gets blocked into the ground then earns himself a penalty because he's frustrated. Not the start the Rams want from their superstar.
ESPN's Dan Graziano has it righ.
The fact that Donald is playing at all is impressive, but his compatriots on the defensive line need to step it up. Because Donald isn't going to be the world-destroying force they're used to with torn rib cartilage.
UPDATE: Donald ended up playing 39 of 72 possible snaps for the Rams defense. He took the loss hard, as seen below.