Rams' Aaron Donald feeling 'fresher' at season's midpoint after sitting out training camp

Rams' Aaron Donald feeling 'fresher' at season's midpoint after sitting out training camp
Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald breaks loose in the Jaguars backfield during a game on Oct. 15 at EverBank Field. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

As the Rams prepare for the start of the second half of the season, one player is feeling particularly fit.

"I feel good," star defensive lineman Aaron Donald said Friday. "Healthy, fresh."


Donald, of course, sat out offseason workouts and training camp because of a still-unresolved contract dispute. He did not play in the first game, but is back to his usual offense-wrecking self.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection is tied for the team lead with four sacks, and he has disrupted opponents throughout a three-game winning streak that pushed the Rams to the top of the NFC West.

Last week against the New York Giants, Donald sacked Eli Manning and stripped the ball for a fumble that led to a touchdown in a 51-17 victory.

Donald said that not participating in training camp enabled him to feel "fresher" at this point in the season than in any of his previous three seasons.

"I ain't got the same aches and bruises anybody else has got," he said.

So absence from training camp worked to his advantage?

"Not taking the pounding on my body," he said. "I guess it was like a gift and curse, not coming."

Donald said he and the defense still have much to improve as the Rams make a push for the playoffs for the first time since 2004. They play the Houston Texans on Sunday at the Coliseum.

"I've been sitting here for a couple days now watching Aaron Donald," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said this week. "This guy's one of the best players I've seen."

Donald's contract status continues to loom. He is earning $1.8 million this season and is scheduled to earn about $6.9 million in 2018.

Donald and his agents are believed to be seeking a new deal that would make him the NFL's highest paid defensive player, and more.

Donald reiterated that his representatives were handling the situation.

"We going to see at the end of the year, or if something happens, something happens," he said. "If not, we'll see what happens after that."


Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @LATimesklein