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Aaron Donald downplays swinging helmet in Rams-Bengals brawl

Rams‘ star defensive tackle Aaron Donald didn’t draw headlines for his usual dominant play last week. 

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year was seen swinging a helmet at Bengals players during a brawl that broke out during a joint practice between the two Super Bowl teams from last season. Donald minimized the role he had in the brawl in an interview with the AP Pro Football Podcast on Wednesday.

“It was just a practice,” Donald said. “It was football. I don’t really wanna go back to nothing negative that happened and talk about something that happened in a practice. My main focus is Buffalo.”

Later in the interview, Donald was asked if he addressed the matter with his team and Rams coach following the fight. Donald only said “yes.”

Donald won’t be subjected to punishment from the league for his conduct in the fight because it occurred during a practice. The helmet swing from Donald immediately drew comparisons to Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett’s incident in 2019, when he took Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet off and hit him in the head with it. Garrett was suspended six games for his actions. 

Donald was one of at least a few players that got noticeably heated during the joint practice between the Rams and Bengals on Aug. 25. Bengals offensive tackle La’el Collins and Rams outside linebacker Leonard Floyd were reportedly at the center of a couple scuffles, including the brawl that led to Donald’s helmet-swinging. 

With the fight behind him, Donald’s looking ahead to the regular season. After contemplating retirement in the offseason, the seven-time All-Pro returned to the Rams on a new contract this offseason and is hoping to help Los Angels become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls in nearly 20 years.

“Just trying to relive all that over again, trying to accomplish that, being a world champion all over again,” Donald said. “That’s the biggest motivation. I was motivated to get there, but once you accomplish that and you get to see what that feels like, it makes you want it that much more. So that’s just the motivation, just to relive that all over again.”

The Rams kick off the 2022 season next Thursday (Sept. 8) at home against the Bills.

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