NFL: Aaron Donald reacts to retirement talk, LA Rams exodus in what will be a 'different' 2023
Aaron Donald has revealed that retirement was never really an option this off-season as he looks ahead to a 'different' 2023 for the Los Angeles Rams.
Less than a year after finally securing the Super Bowl ring he craved, Donald's season ended prematurely due to an ankle injury, the first major health issue he's faced throughout a stellar career.
The 31-year-old has since undergone surgery and told reporters this week he is now back to 100 percent.
But as Donald returns this season, there's been plenty of change for a rebuilding Rams franchise.
"It's going to be different -- you just said a bunch of different playmaker's names," Donald said when asked about the departures of former teammates Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd.
"Obviously, you wish you could play with them my whole career, but it's not like that. It's different, but again, the young guys are going to have to step up. That's me as a leader to get those guys ready and them as professionals to get themselves ready as well. Just got to trust them.
"A lot of them guys played a lot of football last year, but again, I wasn't on the field to get to play with them."
The mighty Rams fell from Super Bowl champs to not even getting in the play-offs in 2022, and management recognized their all-in strategy has now caused them to hit a roadblock.
Their struggles last season prompted yet more speculation that Donald could hang up his cleats, having flirted with retirement after the Super Bowl win. However, this time around, those thoughts never even entered his head.
The stand-out defensive tackle added, when asked if he'd thought about calling it a day: "Not really, honestly. You never want to end your career the way how it was last year so it never really crossed my mind. Just trying to do everything I can to get myself healthy to be here today."
For now, Donald is just focusing on setting an example to his younger teammates and hopes they are all ready to come to play.
He said: "As long as they got the mindset to work and they got the right mindset to do what they need to do at a high level and want to put that work in, me personally, as a football player, as a competitor, I can work with that.
"I want a bunch of guys that are hungry no matter if they've played no snaps or 10 snaps, as long as they got that mindset."
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