Aaron Donald is NFL's best defensive player, says Sean Payton
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Last Updated: 17/01/19 7:31am
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton thinks his side will come up against the NFL's "best defensive player" in Aaron Donald when they meet the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game on Sunday.
Donald, who won the 2017 defensive player of the year award, has been impressive again in terrorising opposition offences this season, leading the league with 20.5 sacks, while also managing 59 tackles and 4 forced fumbles.
Payton will hope to keep Donald relatively quiet as he tries to lead the Saints to a first Super Bowl since 2010.
When asked if he believed his Saints offensive line could handle Donald, Payton said: "It's hard to say you're going to keep him in check.
"He's played as well at that three-technique position that we've seen in years.
"I mean, arguably and I don't know even if it's an argument, he's the best defensive player today in football. His numbers, his production, it shows up in the run game, it shows up in the passing game and it's a challenge."
"We're trying to play a game. We're not trying to talk about no gumbo. We can talk about all that stuff afterwards."
Rams cornerback Marcus Peters on his row with Sean Payton
Sunday also sees Payton come up against Rams' Marcus Peters for the first time since the pair exchanged words in a bitter row earlier this season.
After Payton claimed that the Saints liked matching Michael Thomas against Peters, the cornerback reacted by telling reporters: "Tell Sean Payton, keep talking that ****, we're going to see him soon. Then we're going to have a good little, nice little bowl of gumbo together."
But, speaking ahead of their playoff meeting, Peters played down any tension between the pair.
"Throughout all the other stuff that was behind it, me personally, I didn't have an excellent game that game," Peters told reporters. "So you look forward to those rematches.
"Like I said, man, I've got the utmost respect for the Saints and their head coach and organisation.
"I'm going to be ready to play just as much as they're going to be ready to play. We're trying to play a game. We're not trying to talk about no gumbo. We can talk about all that stuff afterwards."