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Wade Phillips: Aaron Donald 'showed flashes' but was 'rusty'

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Aaron Donald "showed flashes, but he was rusty" in his season debut on Sunday, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said.

"The more he plays, the better he's going to get, and the more he practices, the better he's going to get," Phillips added. "We're looking forward to him playing again this week and maybe get a few more plays."

Donald played a lot more than expected in a 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins. He took 48 snaps, which accounted for 68 percent of the defensive workload and was three snaps away from the most among Rams defensive linemen. His numbers didn't necessarily jump off the page. Donald didn't record a sack and registered only one tackle for a loss.

But he did sneak into the backfield a couple times, coming in just a second late to help out on a sack that went to Morgan Fox and Robert Quinn and nearly knocking away a pitch to Chris Thompson, who followed with a 7-yard touchdown run.

"You know, nobody does that," Phillips said of Donald penetrating the line of scrimmage so quickly that he almost knocked away Kirk Cousins' quick pitch. "Nobody even comes close to doing that. So, you see those flashes of greatness. But it still takes time and work to play football. It’s not an individual game. But I think he’ll be alright.”

Donald spent the summer working out on his own at his alma mater, Pittsburgh, and didn't report to the team until the Saturday before the season opener. His first practice was the following Wednesday, and his only padded practice of the week was Thursday. Then he got something close to his normal amount of snaps in a game and came away disappointed with his play, saying: "I just have to play better."

Now, Donald will have to prepare his body for the dreaded short turnaround, with his Rams traveling to face the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

Phillips believes Donald "held up physically well" on Sunday and isn't worried about him being ready for Thursday.

"I think he's alright," Phillips said. "He seemed to feel good. He was in football-type shape, which was good. That’s why we were able to play him. We wanted to go about 25, 30 plays, but he was ready to go. I just think the feel for the game is important for him, too.”