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Young, emerging stars define Rams

Defensive front is strength of St. Louis team


GREEN BAY – A team with young, emerging stars will attempt to hand the Packers their first loss of the season, and do something no team other than the Packers has done since 2013: win at Lambeau Field.

"I just do my job in the game I love," Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald told Packers media this week.

Donald is one of the Rams' young stars. He was last year's defensive rookie of the year and he leads the Rams this season with 3.5 sacks. He is joined in the Rams' rush most prominently by defensive end Robert Quinn, three sacks.

"You always have to be aware of 99 (Donald) and 94 (Quinn)," Packers Associate Head Coach and play-caller Tom Clements said. "Their front is their strength. They're a pressure-oriented team."

Packers interior offensive linemen Corey Linsley, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang will be responsible for containing Donald; left tackle David Bakhtiari will be assigned to Quinn.

"The thing about their whole front is they're very athletic. You have to be in tune with your fundamentals, your body angles, or they can make you look foolish," Offensive Line Coach James Campen said.

"It's a disruptive front. They're very explosive. Even Michael Brockers, he's lost weight to be quicker."

On offense, rookie running back Todd Gurley and 2013 eighth overall draft pick Tavon Austin are the emerging stars. Gurley was drafted in the first round though he was coming off knee reconstruction late last fall.

"He's a big, strong, physical runner," Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said of Gurley. "You don't want him to get started downhill. If he can get his shoulders turned on you, he'll get better in the downs. He's one of those pounders and he's got the speed to make the big play."

Gurley had his breakout game last Sunday in Arizona, rushing for 146 yards, including a 52-yard run. Austin, a WR/PR, returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Seattle.

"He's one of those jitterbug guys," Capers said of Austin. "In space, he's probably as good as anybody we've played to this point. They'll use him as a running back. There's a reason why he was a high pick."'s Mike Spofford identifies five key matchups in Sunday's Packers-Rams game.

Nick Foles is the Rams' quarterback. The Rams traded Sam  Bradford to the Eagles for Foles.

"There was some interest out there for Sam. Sam has won games, but Sam has been injured the last couple of years, and we just felt the opportunity to get Nick, and the deal itself, was good for us," Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher explained.

"Nick is young. We liked the poise and the huddle presence. We heard great things about leadership qualities. Some of that paid off for us last week. It showed. He made the plays we needed to make."

Packers Special Teams Coordinator Ron Zook is aware of Fisher's penchant for special teams trick plays.

"This week, you'll probably get a deceptive or two. You can't play scared. You have to know personnel. A lot of communication has to go on," Zook said.

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