On Sunday, Carolina will face one of the league’s top pass-rushers in Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
According to Pro Football Focus, Donald leads the NFL in quarterback pressures with 38 and averages 5.4 per game – though he didn’t have a sack until October and still has only three.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is well-aware of Donald’s skill.
“He plays with great leverage. I know he’s not 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, but he knows where his strengths are and he plays to them,” said Rivera before the team departed for Los Angeles on Friday. “He’s very powerful, has a great first step in getting into the crease. There’s one thing he does, and it’s that he gets vertical.”
Like Pro Football Focus, Rivera cited Donald’s skill with his hands against offensive linemen.
“A lot of guys spend a lot of time dancing at the line of scrimmage, getting their hands up, people being slowed down. He goes,” he said. “That’s one of the really neat things about him. And he’s a smart football player. He understands the game.”
Carolina gave up just one sack and four tackles-for-loss to Arizona last week, but is still without starting left tackle Michael Oher as he continues through the concussion protocol.