Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald Johnny Hekker Jersey , the 2017 defensive player of the year, already seems to be the clear favorite to win it again. His coach definitely thinks so.“I think he was well deserving of defensive player of the year last year and I think he’s even playing better this year,” Rams coach Sean McVay told reporters on Tuesday. “I think he’s truly taken his game to a different level. You feel him every single snap. The impact that he makes on the game in so many different ways that maybe don’t even show up on the stat sheet, even though he is putting up these eye-popping numbers where he’s leading the league in sacks and he’s forcing fumbles. . . .“You just kind of get accustomed to, ‘There’s another play Aaron makes,’ but you don’t ever want to take that for granted. The best part about Aaron, and you guys know this, is when you hear Aaron interview, the first thing he says is, ‘I’ve got a lot of room for improvement.’ I think the one thing that I’ve been so impressed with, with him is he is a great player, he’s a special player, but he’s always continually focusing on what he can do to improve. There’s never that complacency that sets in. I think that’s why you see a great player playing at a really high level. I think he raises the level of his teammates. He certainly raises the level of this team and he is making big-time plays at the moments that we need them the most. He is a really, really special player that we are lucky to have. I just think the way he works naturally rubs off on people and I think that consistency where a lot of people think leadership is talking and things like that. Really, what I’ve learned being around Aaron is I think he’s a great leader by the way that he consistently goes about his business, brings people with him just by doing right. We talk about it all the time, we see a lot better than we hear and he’s a guy that definitely shows up and he shows instead of having to say all the time and then that speaks a lot louder than what words can do in a lot of instances.”Some have suggested that Donald should receive MVP consideration, but that will be difficult to accomplish, not only because the league has so many great offensive players this year but also because the Rams have two other viable candidates in running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Jared Goff. They may split votes, making it harder for any of them to win it. LOS ANGELES 鈥?Aaron Rodgers is a major figure in Jared Goff’s earliest football memories.While Goff was a little kid growing up in Marin County, his father took him to games at Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, where he watched Rodgers’ collegiate brilliance for California.More Packers coverage from FOX Sports WisconsinGutekunst: ‘Performance comes first’ in Packers’ trade-deadline movesA look at the Brewers’ contract situations heading into the offseasonStaTuesday: Rams can’t pick on Packers CB Jaire AlexanderPackers trade Clinton-Dix to Redskins, Montgomery to Ravens for picksPackers Snap Counts: Aaron Jones leads backfieldThat kid also got one of his first lessons in professional sports heartbreak when his favorite NFL team 鈥?the San Francisco 49ers 鈥?used the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft on Alex Smith instead of Rodgers.“Yeah, 10-year-old Jared was very upset when he found out they didn’t take Aaron,” Goff said.Once he grew up and filled out Lamarcus Joyner Color Rush Jersey , Goff followed Rodgers’ path to Berkeley. And 3陆 years after Goff became the No. 1 pick that Rodgers never was, they’ll face each other for the first time when Goff’s unbeaten Los Angeles Rams (7-0) host Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers (3-2-1) on Sunday.A significant NFC showdown between the NFL’s last unbeaten team and a perennial power is also a meeting of a rising quarterback star and one of his heroes, still in his prime. Both Golden Bears are excited by the opportunity.“I’ve followed his whole career,” Goff said. “Big fan of his. There are times where we’re watching him play against the defense (the Rams are supposed to be scouting), and you get stuck on watching him. He’s a great player. I’ve got a lot of respect for him, and it’ll be fun to get a chance to go against him.”The feeling is mutual for the 34-year-old Rodgers as he leads the Packers back to the venerable Coliseum, where their storied franchise won the first Super Bowl in 1967.“I’ve gotten to know Jared a little bit over the last couple years, and being a Cal guy, obviously I’m pulling for him,” Rodgers said.“And he’s played really well. They’ve put a lot on his plate with (checkdowns) and stuff at the line of scrimmage, and he does a good job with that. He’s an accurate passer. He’s making good throws. He’s got some weapons to throw to, but he’s been extremely accurate and efficient with the ball. That’s what you need with the quarterback.”Rodgers already has his own Coliseum memories: He tied an NCAA record by completing his first 23 passes for Cal against USC in their famous meeting in 2004, but the Trojans hung on for a 23-17 victory.More things to watch in the Packers’ first appearance at the Coliseum since before the NFL left LA in 1994:11 Gallery:Packers post-bye week breakdownLONG ODDSThe Packers are coming off their bye week, but they opened as 8陆-point underdogs for this matchup against the powerhouse Rams, who are 18-5 in the regular season since coach Sean McVay took over.That’s the biggest betting disadvantage of Rodgers’ career as Green Bay’s starter, but nobody doubts Rodgers’ ability to overcome it 鈥?including the Rams.“He’s got the ball placement, he’s got the arm, he’s got the competitive (attitude), he’s got the heart,” said Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, who also grew up in the Bay Area watching Rodgers at Cal. “Every time (Rodgers is) on that field for the Packers, they’ve got a good chance to win it.”START ME UPThe Rams are off to their first 7-0 start since 1985. The franchise hasn’t started 8-0 since 1969, when NFL MVP Roman Gabriel led Los Angeles to an 11-0 start followed by four straight losses.CLAY’S HOMECOMINGPackers linebacker Clay Matthews grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs, and he walked on at USC before becoming a star and a first-round NFL pick in 2009. He is playing at the venerable Coliseum for the first time since college.So is Nick Perry, who played at USC from 2009-11. “It’ll be cool to go back out there https://www.ramsfanstore.com/Pharoh-Cooper-Jersey , obviously,” Matthews said. “It will be different being in the opposing locker room.”7 Gallery:Upon Further Review: Packers vs. 49ersBenny Sieu | USA TODAY SportsGURLEY’S GAMEGoff aside, Green Bay’s defense must figure out how to slow running back Todd Gurley, who is putting up even more impressive numbers than he managed as the AP’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2017. Gurley leads the league with 88 points, 686 yards rushing, 144 carries and 956 yards from scrimmage. The Packers’ run defense is ranked 22nd in the league, giving up a hefty 4.5 yards per carry.SHIELDS SIGHTINGCornerback Sam Shields made the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2010, and he was a steady defensive contributor until he incurred his fourth concussion in the 2016 season opener.After nearly two years out of football, he聽joined the Rams this season聽. Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams says he consulted with Shields regularly about his health during his absence.“At one point I was on the bandwagon with him, like, ‘Man, you need to call it quits,'” Williams said. “And on the other side, after he had some time off, his mind is cleared and he’s back mentally ready to go.”10 Gallery:PHOTOS: Packers vs. 49ers—PACKERS-RAMS CAPSULESunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, FoxOPENING LINE 鈥?Rams by 8 1/2RECORD VS. SPREAD 鈥?Green Bay 2-4-0, Los Angeles 4-2-1SERIES RECORD 鈥?Tied 46-46-2LAST MEETING 鈥?Packers beat Rams, 24-10, Oct. 11, 2015LAST WEEK 鈥?Packers had bye, beat 49ers 33-30 on Oct. 15; Rams beat 49ers, 39-10AP PRO32 RANKING 鈥?Packers No. 11, Rams No. 1PACKERS OFFENSE 鈥?OVERALL (4), RUSH (20) Mark Barron Color Rush Jersey , PASS (4).PACKERS DEFENSE 鈥?OVERALL (8), RUSH (22), PASS (5).RAMS OFFENSE 鈥?OVERALL (2), RUSH (1), PASS (8).RAMS DEFENSE 鈥?OVERALL (7), RUSH (12), PASS (9).STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – California Cheeseheads will be out in force when Packers visit Los Angeles for first time since NFL returned in 2016. … Both teams beat San Francisco in last outing, but Packers coming off bye week. … Two big-time offenses meeting at Coliseum. Both in NFL’s top four in total yards. Rams have league’s most prolific rushing game (153.1 yards per game). Packers have No. 4 passing game (317.3 yards per game). … Pack has won five straight, 12 of 16 over Rams. Coach Mike McCarthy is 5-1 vs. Rams. … Packers CB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix shares NFL lead with three interceptions. He won national title at Alabama with Rams LB Mark Barron. … Green Bay opened as biggest underdog of QB Aaron Rodgers’ career, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. … Rodgers is rolling again, with 332.8 yards passing per game and 12 TDs, 1 INT. … Packers LB Clay Matthews makes first pro appearance in his native LA area and at Coliseum, where former USC walk-on became standout for four Pac-12 championship teams. … Rams gunning for franchise’s first 8-0 start since 1969, when LA started club-record 11-0. … Rams already have 3 1/2-game lead over Seattle in NFC West. With Dodgers in mind, Rams’ magic number to clinch division title is seven. … Rams’ first game at Coliseum in 31 days. After Nov. 11 home date with Seattle, they’ll go another 35 days without Coliseum game. … Rams CB Sam Shields spent seven seasons with Packers, winning Super Bowl ring and making Pro Bowl. Concussions kept him out of football in 2017, but he is valuable backup and special-teamer for LA this season. … RB Todd Gurley leads NFL with 88 points, 686 yards rushing, 144 carries and 956 yards from scrimmage. … DE Aaron Donald co-leads NFL with eight sacks after destructive effort against Niners with four sacks, six tackles for loss. … WR Cooper Kupp seems likely to miss second straight game with knee injury. Replacements Josh Reynolds, Nick Williams combined for three catches last week at San Francisco while Rams dominated on ground. … Fantasy tip: Packers TE Jimmy Graham could be big target for Rodgers, who will test LA’s linebackers and secondary while getting rid of ball before Donald and Ndamukong Suh get to him.
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