Aaron Donald amazed by Pro Bowl berth

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As NFL players go, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more even-keeled and quiet than St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Donald has earned a reputation for silently going about his business to the point where he's often the target of good-natured ribbing from his teammates for it. But when news came on Tuesday evening that Donald was headed to this year's Pro Bowl , he couldn't hide his excitement.

"I was just trying to play and at the end of the year whatever happened happened," Donald said. "I’m just happy. To do this as a rookie, my first year and accomplish something like that is amazing."

What Donald has done in his first NFL season at one of the league's toughest positions is amazing in its own right. His eight sacks are the most among rookies and fifth-most among defensive tackles. He also has a team-high 17 tackles for loss. The Rams coaches credit Donald with 29 quarterback pressures and 12 quarterback hits.

Those numbers were enough to make Donald the first Rams rookie since Jerome Bettis in 1993 to make the Pro Bowl and the first Rams defensive rookie to make it since Isiah Robertson in 1971.

That Donald has had such an impact comes as no surprise to his teammates or coaches, who have been consistently singing his praises since the team drafted him No. 13 overall in May.

"I think from day one since he got here everyone was impressed," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "I remember [Brian] Schottenheimer saying after the first week of OTAs this kid could be defensive rookie of the year. You just kind of saw it week by week as he got more comfortable and just put in there more and more and trusted more and more and he just continued to make plays and splash plays, tackles for loss, sacks, but as a D tackle, he’s very disruptive.

"I love the way he goes about his business. He’s very quiet, takes pride in what he does. He did all that in college. It’s why he won a lot of awards. He’s doing the same thing up here, which is good to see."

If the Pro Bowl is any indication -- and it might not be -- next on the list for Donald is the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. The voting for that award is different than the Pro Bowl but it's still pretty well known that voters tend to look at raw numbers rather than the tape. On either count, Donald has a strong case.

Donald's toughest competition looks to be from Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosley, the only other rookie defender to make the Pro Bowl. Dallas offensive lineman Zack Martin is the third and final rookie to earn the honor. Coincidentally, those are the three players the Rams had the most interest in with the pick they ultimately used on Donald.

Donald won nearly every award imaginable at the college level and is off to a good start in doing the same in his NFL career.

And will that Defensive Rookie of the Year award come next?

"Hopefully, we’re going to see," Donald said, laughing. "We’ll see what happens."