ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was a popular man in Pittsburgh this week.
There’s extra demand since he’s from Pittsburgh, went to college at Pitt and still considers himself a Steelers fan — except for this week when Pittsburgh comes to town.
“It was a pretty big list,” Donald said. “A lot of guys in Pittsburgh want to talk to me and I’ve just got to do it.”
Donald, last year’s NFL defensive rookie of the year, said that sacking Ben Roethlisberger was also on the agenda. He has 2½ sacks in the first two games and would love to add to that total against a player he’s been watching since he was a kid.
“I want to get a sack every week,” Donald said. “You get to him, you’ve got to get your big boy pants ready because he ain’t going to go down easy.”
The Steelers are unsettled at center, with Cody Wallace replacing injured Maurkice Pouncey.
“Obviously I know quite a bit about him, probably too much,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “The things that I know about him don’t help me sleep easy. This guy is extremely talented, but he’s also a very hard worker.”
Things to watch for in Steelers-Rams:
WELCOME BACK: Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell returns from a two-game suspension and will start. DeAngelo Williams is second in the NFL with 204 yards rushing. “I just couldn’t wait to get back out there. That’s all I really kept on my mind,” Bell said. Bell wasn’t surprised Williams did so well, and he also wouldn’t be surprised if Williams was just fine being a backup. “If you ask him, he’d be happy I’m back to help him out a little bit,” Bell said. “He did a great job and I can’t wait to tag-team with him.”
GO FOR TWO: The Steelers opened some eyes when they bucked convention and opted to go for 2-point conversions following their first two touchdowns against the 49ers. Roethlisberger converted both and San Francisco never recovered. While Tomlin said he’ll continue to go with his gut when opting to go for 2 or kick. “We are going to keep doing it,” Roethlisberger said. “We don’t practice it this much to not do it. We do it every single day at the beginning of practice from OTAs to minicamp to training camp.”
DIFFERENT OUTCOMES: The Steelers were dominant in a 43-18 rout of the 49ers. Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 155.8 and Antonio Brown had nine catches for a career-best 195 yards. The Rams failed to follow up on an overtime victory over Seattle in their opener, falling behind 17-0 in a 24-10 loss at Washington. “We just can’t start lackadaisical,” end Robert Quinn said.
GET OFF THE FIELD: The Rams have been dominated in time of possession thus far, and had the ball for just 22 minutes, 16 seconds last week. Overall, opponents have run 44 more plays. The Steelers also have some need of ball control, averaging 27:33 of possession.
BIG-PLAY THREAT: Brown has caught a touchdown pass in four consecutive regular-season games and has a pair of 100-yard games this season. Last week, he reached 400 catches in his 72nd game, tied for third-fewest games in NFL history. “He works like Aaron Donald,” Tomlin said. “When I think about both guys, they’re better workers than players and that’s saying something.”
TRAVELING STRONG: The previous time the Steelers played in St. Louis in 2007, thousands of fans made the trip and bought readily available seats for a franchise entering a struggling period. That’s likely to be the case again with the Rams drawing poorly in perhaps their final season in St. Louis. The Rams have practiced using a silent count just in case, although quarterback Nick Foles said he didn’t need it in the opening victory over Seattle despite raucous Seahawks fans.