They won’t square off against one another at SoFi Stadium, but three of the NFL’s elite defenders will all share the field on Sunday night in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams and the one Chicago Bears defender energized about seeing those two: Khalil Mack.
The 30-year-old and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year spoke to the Chicago media on Friday, September 10, about being inside the crystalized stadium with the veteran Rams who have 10 Pro Bowl appearances combined.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” the Bears’ star outside linebacker said Friday after his first question. “I mean, there’s extra juice every game to feel like that. This game is no different — but it’s also more than that with those two other guys on the other side of the ball as well. It’s always humbling to go into games like this, understanding what’s at stake, and ultimately just trying to win a ballgame. Do what you can to put this team in a position to win the ball game.”
Mack and one Ram were Part of Same Draft Class
Not only are Mack and Donald the same age, but both entered the league together.
Back in 2014, the Oakland Raiders decided to select a fast-rising sleeper linebacker out of the University of Buffalo at No. 5 overall.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams sat at No. 13 overall and took the 6-foot-1, 280-pound Donald as their second first round selection out of the University of Pittsburgh.
So who’s produced more? Or are both equal?
Mack has certainly accomplished a lot from his Silver and Black days to his current tenure in the Windy City:
- Producing 448 career tackles with 337 solo stops
- Has 70.5 career sacks including four consecutive years of collecting double digit sacks from 2015 to 2018.
- And, Mack has earned six straight Pro Bowl appearances – all according to Pro Football Reference.
Donald, though, has put up the following per the PFR website:
- A Pro Bowl nod in every season of his career.
- Six consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections.
- Three-time winner of the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
- Has 357 career tackles including 247 solo.
- Lastly, has produced 85.5 career sacks.
Both defenders have become cornerstones for the defenses they play on. And both will be entering this game with consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in tow.
Could Ramsey Shadow Top Bears Target the Whole Night?
While the Rams will likely prepare for Andy Dalton as QB1 for the Bears, the top aerial option will be a 100-catch target from a season ago in Allen Robinson.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder snatched a career-high 102 receptions last season for the NFC wildcard representative. Robinson added 1,250 yards and two touchdowns in Matt Nagy’s offense.
Ramsey has spent his entire NFL career locking up the opponent’s top receiver. Last season according to Pro Football Focus, Ramsey surrendered 40 receptions on 75 total targets, including three games when he didn’t allow a catch.
Is new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris going to allow the 6-foot-1, 208-pound Ramsey to have Robinson all to himself?
“It’s nice to have a player like a Jalen Ramsey to be able to have a got-to-have-it player on defense that you can match up with him,” Morris said about the matchup near the 18:35 mark of the post practice video from Thursday, September 9. “Not to say that he would follow him around the whole game or anything like that, but there will be times that they’ll have matchups. There will be times where he’ll be with Darious Williams and there’ll be times he’ll be on D-Long (David Long). And I’ve got a lot of confidence in all those guys holding up their end of the bargain.”
Last year versus the Bears, Ramsey was targeted five times and surrendered two catches for 47 yards in the Rams’ 24-10 win.
But most people, perhaps even Robinson himself, likely remembers this tackle Ramsey delivered on the Bear from 2019.