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A ‘Hall of Famer’ and the ‘center of chaos’: Seahawks face huge challenge in Aaron Donald

SEATTLE – Russell Wilson calls him a future Hall of Famer.

Richard Sherman points out he’s “always at the center of chaos.”

Pro Football Focus once picked him the best player in the NFL, and the Washington Post says he’s the best defensive player in the NFL.

Rest assured that when the Seattle Seahawks face the Los Angels Rams on Sunday, they’ll have quite a bit of thought into how they’re going to manage all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

“He’s really, really problematic,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “There’s just nobody like him, quickness-wise. For a guy that doesn’t have big stature, he’s got extraordinary strength and explosion and ability to disengage and get off.

“He makes remarkable plays that other guys can’t make. You don’t know what’s going to happen, so he’s really a challenge to face.”

The numbers are flashy, particularly for an interior lineman. Donald had 9 sacks his rookie year, 11 in 2015 and “only” eight last season.

But it’s really Donald’s ability to disrupt plays that sets him apart. In 2016, PFF credited Donald with 82 pressures – third most in the league, and by far the most of any interior lineman.

“He’s disruptive,” Sherman said. “He’s always back there or at the center of a lot of chaos. Plays with great hands, great pad level great technique.

“You just know he’s going to be something that you have to deal with and something the offense has to face.”

Last year Donald and his colleagues made life miserable for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks when they made their first visit to the L.A. Coliseum upon the Rams’ return to town. Wilson was sacked twice and completed 22-of-35 passes as Seattle’s offense sputtered badly in a 9-3 loss.

Last week, Wilson finally admitted he was struggling badly with an injured ankle, saying he  “moved like a bag of bricks,” and lamenting “you have to be able to move around every once in a while” against the Rams’ defense.

Wilson said Donald is of the same breed as Warren Sapp and other interior defensive linemen who were game-changers.

“You’re talking about a guy who’s super-focused, seems like he enjoys himself, but also has a determination that’s relentless,” Wilson said. “You definitely recognize that, you recognize that out in the field. He’s always poised and calm on the field. He really knows the game. He’s a guy who plays the game the right way.

“He’s gonna be a Hall-of-Famer, I really believe that.”