Aaron Donald named PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The honors and awards that Aaron Donald became so accustomed to during his senior year at Pittsburgh continue to roll in after his first NFL season.

On Tuesday, the Pro Football Writers of America named Donald the 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a member of the All-Rookie team. Donald has already earned similar honors from Pro Football Focus, Sports Illustrated and elsewhere and is considered a strong favorite to take home the "official" award from the Associated Press at the NFL honors presentation on Jan. 31.

Donald led all rookies with nine sacks this past season, a total that ranked second amongst all defensive tackles only behind Buffalo's Marcell Dareus and the sixth most by a rookie defensive tackle since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Donald wasn't the only Rams rookie to garner some love from the PFWA on Tuesday. Cornerback E.J. Gaines and running back Tre Mason also earned spots on the All-Rookie team.

Gaines was a bit of a revelation for the Rams after stepping into the starting lineup because of preseason injuries. He never relinquished that spot until a concussion put him on the sidelines in the final week. Before that, he led the Rams with 14 passes defended and posted two interceptions and two fumble recoveries all while vacillating between outside and nickel corner.

Mason emerged as the starter at running back in the middle of the season and likely won't give the job back. He rushed for 765 yards and his five touchdowns were tied for most on the team.